Leadership in Project Management

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Introduction to Leadership in Project Management

Project managers are simultaneously both leaders and managers. This essay looks at the leadership skills that can aid project supervisors in leading projects effectively. It explains the concept of leadership, the responsibilities of leaders and managers, and the distinctions between managing and leading project teams by defining them.

It explains the four most important project skills that leaders have. It goes on to explain how project managers may assist their teams in overcoming the five performance problems that plague project groups. It offers suggestions for how project managers can help their teams collaborate and form relationships successfully.

What is Project Leadership?

Project leadership involves leading teams in completing projects successfully. It requires project managers to be both leaders and managers. They must manage the program through its lifecycle, controlling costs, schedules and risks while simultaneously motivating team members to work hard to accomplish their assigned tasks (Kerzner 5-10).

Leadership Responsibilities

Managers are supposed to guide their team through the project while leading by example. Leaders are responsible for inspiring and motivating the people on their teams to contribute successfully. They also see that members of their teams have all resources they need to get their jobs done, while keeping them informed about changes in policies or procedures (Kerzner 5-10).

Leadership vs. Management

Managers are supposed to assist their teams in reaching a goal by assigning tasks, monitoring progress and assigning additional resources as needed. Leaders inspire team members to accomplish goals that the manager has assigned to them. They motivate workers through inspiration and motivation, empowering them so they can succeed (Kerzner 5-10).

Leadership vs. Teamwork

Leaders are responsible for working with the members of their teams to ensure future project success by motivating, inspiring and empowering them to overcome obstacles that they face (Kerzner 5-10). They help facilitate collaboration between team members and see that the right people work on teams at the same time (Kerzner 5-10).

The Difference Between a Project Manager and a Project Leader

Project managers are responsible for planning, organizing and controlling the work of their teams to get projects completed on schedule. The project manager is responsible for managing risks, keeping costs under control and soliciting team member feedback throughout the life of the project (Kerzner 5-10). However, it’s important to remember that good leaders also need to have good management skills, including being able to plan tasks and assign them out to team members. Furthermore, managers need project-management skills as well, such as planning and organizing what needs to be done on each assignment (Kerzner 5-10).

The Four Most Important Project Skills

Leaders have four key skills that they must use to ensure project success. First, a leader must facilitate collaboration between team members so the right people work on the teams when needed. He or she should avoid assigning tasks when possible, instead delegating them where appropriate in order to speed up the completion of projects (Kerzner 5-10).

Second, a leader must motivate and inspire team members in order to increase their productivity and job satisfaction (Kerzner 12-4). He or she should seek feedback from team members regarding their work. Leaders give guidance to workers who may need assistance with completing tasks successfully. They provide support to team members when needed, and must be available at all times for questions from team members (Kerzner 5-10).

Third, a leader should enable his or her team members by providing them with the resources they need. He or she may offer incentives in order to increase productivity when it is appropriate. Leaders frequently assign additional tasks to team members in order to make sure that each one has enough work (Kerzner 17-16).

Finally, a leader should empower his or her teams by giving them the authority to do their jobs and enabling them whenever possible. He or she should allow teams to solve problems as needed instead of immediately picking up the phone and seeking assistance from resources outside their project teams (Kerzner 5-10).

Successful Leadership Communication

Leaders must communicate effectively with team members in order to ensure that their projects are successful. They should avoid using words and phrases that may be interpreted as negative or derogatory whenever possible, and instead seek out ways to encourage positive interactions between team members (Kerzner 20-8).

Leaders must also make sure that all members of their teams clearly understand how to perform assigned tasks, or seek help from team consultants when necessary. They should set up regular meetings with team members who are having problems, and use these opportunities to provide additional support where needed (Kerzner 5-10).

Leaders must communicate effectively with other teams in order to ensure that their projects are successful. When working with other team leaders, they should maintain a positive and professional demeanor at all times (Kerzner 10-4). They should seek input from other project managers when making decisions about which tasks their teams will work on, without sacrificing quality. They should always follow the rules established by their teams, and avoid trying to enforce their own personal opinions on team members or other leaders (Kerzner 10-4).

Other Project Management Competencies

Conflict Resolution: Conflict arises in nearly all projects, but it should be resolved quickly to avoid affecting other team members. Conflict resolution involves one team leader communicating openly with another leader when conflicts arise while making sure that their project teams remain unaffected by the conflict (Kerzner 9-13).

Team Leadership:

Team leadership entails managing conflict between teammates while enabling them to work together successfully. Leaders must encourage team members to communicate with one another, but discourage complaining about each other behind one another’s backs (Kerzner 9-13).

Crafting Solutions:

Crafting solutions requires that a leader look at all aspects of the situation when attempting to solve problems. Leaders must keep an open mind when trying to resolve conflict, and must also depend on team members for input before making a decision. If a leader decides to take action without consulting others, it may be perceived as an act of insubordination (Kerzner 9-13).

Negotiation Skills:

Leaders must demonstrate negotiation skills in order to ensure that their projects are successful. When dealing with issues that have already arisen, a leader must communicate with both parties involved and seek to come to an agreement where both feel as though they gained something (Kerzner 9-13).

Organization Skills:

Leaders must demonstrate organization skills in order to ensure that their projects are successful. They should make sure that all of their team members know which tasks they are expected to complete, and when they should start and finish each assigned task (Kerzner 13-4).

Interpersonal Skills:

Leaders must demonstrate interpersonal skills in order to ensure that their projects are successful. They should encourage teamwork whenever possible by promoting an environment where team members feel comfortable working together in a positive way (Kerzner 13-4).

Responsibilities of a Leadership Roles

Leaders have several responsibilities that they must carry out in order for projects to be successful. They should be available at all times for questions from team members, and solve problems as quickly as possible in order to avoid negative outcomes. Leaders must also assign additional tasks to team members whenever appropriate in order to ensure that each one has enough work to do (Kerzner 17-16).

Leaders should empower their teams by giving them the authority to perform their jobs, and by enabling them whenever possible. They should make sure that teams understand how to complete assigned tasks, and avoid assigning additional projects when their team members are swamped with work at the time (Kerzner 5-10).

Leaders must communicate effectively with other project managers in order to ensure that their projects do not interfere with one another. They should maintain a positive and professional demeanor at all times, seek input from other project managers when making decisions, and follow the established rules for their teams (Kerzner 10-4).

Leaders must assign routine tasks to team members in order to ensure that projects are completed on time. They should monitor workers’ progress throughout each day or week to ensure that they are staying on track, and take corrective action if team members begin showing signs of laziness or low morale (Kerzner 15-6).

Leaders should also assign additional tasks to workers in order to increase their productivity. These might include anything from reading books on time management to attending seminars designed for project managers, and should be tailored to each worker’s unique needs (Kerzner 17-16).

Finally, leaders must communicate with team members when assigning routine tasks. Leaders should give team members clear instructions on how to complete their designated jobs in order to avoid confusion and negative outcomes (Kerzner 15-6). Additionally, leaders must set up regular meetings with each of their workers to maintain positive business relationships.

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Leadership Approaches and Theories:

Trait theories:

The trait theory is the oldest, simplest and least predictive theory of leadership. It suggests that people possess either positive or negative traits (that makes them good or bad leaders). Trait theory has received considerable criticism for being too simplistic in its view of people. This approach only focuses on one thing, which are personal qualities possessed by a leader, it fails to take into account leadership behaviours.

Behavioral theories:

The behavioural theory of leadership is based on the assumption that traits are less important than behaviours when it comes to effective leadership. This approach suggests that there is no personality or character type that distinguishes effective leaders from their ineffective counterparts. The most common behavioral theory of leadership has been developed by Fiedler (1967). His contingency model argues that different situations require different types of leader behavior. In order to lead successfully, a leader must possess behaviors that are appropriate for the specific situation he or she faces.

The situational theory of leadership:

This approach suggests that there is no one best way to lead. It states that different situations call for different styles of leadership. There is no single correct style of leading and each leader should assess the situation and adopt a leadership style that is appropriate for it. This approach tries to explain why different people with different styles can be successful. Situational theory argues that individuals do not lead in fundamentally different ways; rather, they simply choose to use different sets of tactics for their specific circumstances.

The humanistic approach:

This approach suggests that leaders should act in the best interest of their followers. It is based on the assumption that people are essentially good and they want to follow those who put their welfare first.

The transformational leadership theory:

This approach argues that effective leaders motivate followers to achieve higher goals than they would otherwise be capable of achieving on their own. It suggests that leaders should focus on the potential of their followers and encourage them to do more than they would be willing to do without encouragement.

According to Bass (1985), there are four key attributes of transformational leaders: charisma, intellectual stimulation, idealized influence and individualized consideration.

The vision approach:

This approach focuses on the leader’s ability to develop a vision for the future, build commitment towards this vision and motivate followers to work towards its attainment.

The transactional approach:

The transactional leadership theory argues that leaders are concerned with providing rewards to followers who complete tasks assigned by them. They use rewards, such as pay raise or promotion, to encourage their employees to adopt certain behavior. If employees perform their tasks successfully they are rewarded by the leader, if they fail to achieve expected results, punishment is administered (Bass 36-52).

This approach also suggests that most leaders have two basic types of motivation strategies: maintaining the existing order or bringing about change.

The Impact of Good Leadership on a Project

According to a study of what causes project failure, one of the most common reasons is poor leadership. Projects with strong leadership and behind-the-scenes executive support are more likely to be successful. The following are three of the greatest advantages of good project management.

#1: Better Planning

A good leader makes sure that his or her team plans carefully and adequately before starting to work. A plan includes not only the time schedule but also the budget, resources needed for carrying out different tasks, any risks involved in performing particular activities and so on.

All these factors are taken into account when planning a project. However, the plan is only as good as the people who are carrying out its activities. Therefore, a project manager must find ways to motivate his or her team members to make sure that they follow the plan and undertake their assigned tasks in time. This can be achieved by rewarding employees for finishing each task on time and punishing them if they fail to achieve an expected result. For example, if a team member comes late for work or is unable to complete the task assigned by his manager it usually means that he has failed to meet an agreed deadline.

#2: Avoiding Scope Creep (Unwanted Extension)

When working on a project it is very easy for team members to lose focus on the primary goals. They may get so interested in doing additional work that they forget about their original aim of completing the project at all.

Scope creep refers to any significant additions or changes to a project, which are not part of the initial scope and do not fit within the agreed time limits. This can lead to problems with deadlines, budget overruns and an overall failure to deliver expected results.

Good managers are always aware of the potential problems associated with scope creep and make sure their team members understand what is expected of them before starting work. Employees should be made to feel involved in the project, understand its purpose and be motivated enough to complete it on time.

#3: Closing a Project

After all the work is done, there comes a particular time when the project must be closed. However, not every team member may realize that this is necessary and keep working on it long after finishing their assigned tasks.

Good project managers ensure that their team members understand what is expected of them at each stage in the project. They make sure that their followers are accountable for every decision they make and that they know when to ask for help from team members with more experience. In short, a good manager ensures that his or her employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete their tasks within the given timeframe and budget(Shutt 3).

#4: Ensuring Teamwork

Teamwork is one of the most important factors determining the success or failure of projects. Many people who have ever worked on an enterprise for a long time probably know what it is like to be in a team where things run smoothly and efficiently and what happens when there is no teamwork at all.

Good project managers encourage their subordinates to work as a team and establish a sense of togetherness among them. They understand that in order to carry out a project successfully all members of the team must coordinate their actions, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, share information and offer help when it is needed.

Every member of a team should realize that they cannot work efficiently if their colleagues do not fulfill their obligations. Therefore, it is important for a team to feel responsible for the overall success of the project and eager to resolve possible problems efficiently.

Personality Traits of a Project Manager

“A good project manager must be able to lead and motivate the team members, avoid scope creep and effectively deal with potential problems.”

A successful project manager should possess certain personality traits: he or she should be:

• Flexible:

It is very important for a project manager to be flexible and ready to adjust his or her decisions based on new information. Being inflexible can lead to the failure of a project even if it is technically sound.

• Outgoing:

Leading a team requires being friendly, social and open-minded. A good manager should have no problem getting along with his or her subordinate and be able to establish relations of equal partnership.

• Strong Negotiator:

A project manager should be able to negotiate with his or her team members, partners and clients if an agreement can facilitate the work process.

• Self-motivated:

An effective manager knows how to motivate his or her subordinates and make them follow their example. A great project manager has a strong internal motivation making him or her eager to complete the project no matter what.

• Decisive:

Haste makes waste, however, one should not be overly hasty in making major decisions. A good manager is able to make the right choice after weighing all the pros and cons of a particular situation.

• Critical thinker:

As mentioned above, a project manager cannot make major decisions without thinking them through. He or she should be able to critically assess the situation, prioritize tasks and choose the most important one in order to avoid scope creep.

• Able to delegate:

A good manager knows how to delegate work effectively, meaning that he or she does not overload his team too much and does not interfere with the work being carried out by subordinates if not necessary.

• Self-confident:

A good manager should have a high level of self-confidence because he or she will often have to make decisions without getting approval from higher management. This is why it is important for team members to trust their manager’s judgment, understand his or her decisions and feel responsible for the project’s success.

• Calm:

A good manager should keep his or her cool in stressful situations and be able to find a solution to potential problems calmly, without panicking.

• Good communicator:

An effective leader needs to have a clear vision of what they want from their subordinates and how they should go about achieving it. Therefore, he or she needs to be able to communicate his ideas and thoughts in an unambiguous way so that everyone understands what is required of them.

• Proactive:

A good manager should never sit around waiting for something bad to happen but always look ahead anticipating potential problems and work on preventing them before they occur.