Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Leadership Habits of Project Managers

Have you ever been a part of a project team whose components seemed to be lacking until everyone pulled together to accomplish something great? Why do these things happen? The answer is the leadership. A poor leader fails to bring out the best of an already great team, but a great leader can create winners out of a team who may seem to lack ability.

Leadership is a critical and essential component for any project management team. Leading a project towards success requires the manager to have a clear vision, clarity in reason, practical in scheduling and the ability to attract a talented and efficient team. The stress in project management is about ensuring that things get done while motivating the project team towards delivering project success.

Rick Mears, CIO of Owens & Minor, has an interesting perspective on the most important elements of leadership with implications for how PMs show leadership in their roles.  Here are his top 10 leadership habits of project managers according to Mears:

10.  Keeping customers, people and profits balanced
These days, PMs have to watch the boundaries they place on stakeholders, teams and projects.  Does delivering a project on time make us successful if they’ve killed their team while doing so?  This habit rings true with the juggling act that PMs must keep up.

9.  Delivering bad news quickly
One of the biggest mistakes PMs can make is to sit on negative information in the hope that it will get better on its own.  The world doesn’t work this way – the much better alternative is to share the information with decision-makers and come up with solutions to solve the problem.

8.  Having tough conversations early
If PMs don’t address conflict in a timely manner, it can poison the relationship, the team atmosphere, etc.  Wait too long and you will blindside people with feedback that is out of date.

7. Running the play that was called when the huddle breaks
This is all about consistency, about not second-guessing the decision that was made.  Leaders who say one thing to the team, then turn around and take an action quickly lose creditability. This doesn’t mean you can’t change course, but that if you do so, you need to get the team’s understanding.

6.  Owning the decision
A leader who says to her team “Well, the big boss upstairs says we have to do it this way” has just given away her authority, and damaged the team’s confidence in her leadership.  A true leader has to understand the decision, become creative in how to follow it and own it.

5.  Collaborating – try for consensus
As leaders, PMs should do everything we can to get consensus from our teams.  Knowing that this will not always be possible, the next best thing we can do is at least spend enough time communicating our point of view so that the team understands the decision.

4.  Focusing on the things that you can influence, and then grow you influence
It’s important that PMs continue to hone leadership skills, relationships, credibility to grow their areas of influence.  If they aren’t managing that ability to influence, they will run into brick walls that can limit effectiveness. 

3.  Staying confident on the inside, but humble on the outside
True leaders take the heat, and give all the credit to the folks on the ground doing the work.  Ironically, by doing so, leaders are seen as honorable and capable – things that make others want to follow them.

2.  Asking for help
Some people in leadership roles are crippled by the fear that if they ask for help, they will be seen as weak.  In not asking for help, they become ineffective or make costly mistakes – which makes them seem week.

1.  Trust – takes forever to build, can be destroyed in an instant
For leaders to be effective, they must be trusted.  Each of the points above relate to this core concept – and it is a fragile thing to maintain.  It’s worth it to keep this concept in mind in almost all PMs’ actions as leaders – how are they are building trust, and are they risking damage to the trust they have established?



About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc
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1 comment:

wilton burwell said...

The military is gigantic on "...in order to become a good leader you must first become a good follower..." That instills planning the objectives, follow the plan, adjust as required, communicate, communicate, communicate. People who you are responsible for quickly analyze your leadership style, or lack there of, because they test you to see what type you are, early and often.