Natural Leadership Characteristics - care to comment?

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Can those who have natural leadership characteristics be better than those who does not when it comes to project managing?
Akharume Darlington M. (PMO)

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Hello Darlington, This is an interesting issue. I believe leadership qualities are important, and certainly some people find that assuming the role of leader (in a professional or personal setting) comes more naturally to them than others. Having said that, I also believe that leadership qualities and skills can be learned, whether through experiences at work or training, and that confidence levels play a major part in how readily people embrace the role of leader.

I don't know if you watch "The Apprentice", but both teams on that programme must appoint a new leader (which they refer to as the project manager) each time they are given a task/project, e.g. selling ice creams on the sea front or designing a new style of greetings card. While some team members are more reluctant to put themselves forward for the leader's role than others, I don't think that necessarily means the people who hold back ultimately make a worse job of managing the project. But there is definitely a sense that being the leader makes you vulnerable, as well as influential. After all, the worst-performing team will have to explain their actions in the boardroom, before one team member is 'fired'. I reckon that a lot depends on how you put your leadership skills into practice and how your team responds to your general manner.

There are many different styles of leadership, from autocratic to charismatic, bureaucratic to democratic ( ... leadership).

Marvey Mills
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Interesting question!

The obvious answer is, in my view, "yes that can" in that there is nothing in a person that has natural leadership capabilities that precludes them from being a good PM. However if you ask whether someone with natural leadership is predisposed to being a good PM then I would have to say no. In fact, in my experience, people who are natural leaders (i.e. charismatic, empathic and great communicators) do not make good PMs at all as they tend to rely on their overt leadership skills to get what they want rather than the good old attention to detail, having a good plan, communicating the plan effectively and proactively managing risk... I have found that then when all is going well the natural leaders do well, but when things start going off the rails (because they didn't make a plan, manage the risk and attend to the detail) they quickly call for a PM to step in and save the day while they get on with leading a part of the organisation.

Conversely you might ask whether a PM without leadership skills can ever be a good PM. My answer would be "sometimes, it's certainly possible, but usually not"!

Can I ask what motivated you to ask this question?
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