Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar iconNot recorded
Adobe PDF icon

Six Ways to Give Proper Project Leadership

~ By Dr. Keith Mathis

Effective leadership sphere

Many things influence project management today. When we look at projects today compared to fifteen or twenty years ago, we notice a big change. In the old traditional setting, the boss might not even ask for any input, but today team involvement is critical. In a team setting, people are encouraged to give ideas and make decisions. This change governs how projects today are run. Gone is the traditional way of running projects where the boss made the decisions, figured the timeframes, and set all objectives. Today, we need more and more team members who will take the necessary leadership and move the project forward. This becomes a struggle with expectations and culture. This becomes even more difficult with organisations that have strong governmental, military, or influential bureaucratic drivers which can complicate the projects.

It is a fact project management is here to stay. This means more decision making power must move down to the front line level. When this is carried over to the project team, this means you must create decision makers, not order takers. Employees must be taught to make decisions. The need for these skills will not change in the future. The expectations today are that employees can and will make these important decisions.

Yes, some traditional supervisors will struggle giving away their power. They mistakenly think they have lost control and are giving their jobs to another. However, in today's organisational culture, this way of thinking is being replaced by a progressive, proactive project management style - Project Power.

Everything rises and falls on leadership. This quote is especially true in running successful projects. You must have strong leadership, or things fall through the crack. Every individual must be committed to do what they say they will do.

There are six ways to give proper leadership as you are setting up a project team.

Create an Atmosphere of Trust

Successful project teams feel trust and support throughout the project. Trust cannot be demanded as some mistakenly think. Trust is earned. You must earn trust, and walk the talk consistently. Treat people in a respectful manner. People who are treated badly will unlikely be supportive and cooperative. Avoid and discourage lies and backbiting. These kill trust and cause people to reject leadership. People can handle mistakes or even failure, but they cannot handle lies and disrespect.

Build the Right Team

Some project teams experience turf battles. Individuals argue and are uncooperative; they simply do not like each other. Communication and common courtesy can break down causing the project to suffer. Most people are able to overcome their personal dislikes and still work together. However, the team leader is responsible for addressing any unsolved problems that jeopardise the success of the project. By carefully selecting the team members in the beginning, some of these problems can be avoided.

Spell Everything Out for Your Team Upfront

Leaders sometimes try to do the soft sell for their teams. They approach the team with the attitude that the project will not take long and will not need hard work. After the team is committed to the project, the bomb is dropped as to exactly what it will require from them. The leader's credibility is destroyed, and in the future, red flags will go up when another project is proposed. It always works better to tell people the truth. By explaining the depth of the project and how much time you anticipate it will take for completion will build your credibility. Create the right foundation by explaining the process for handling problems, change orders, and assignments. By giving the team the information up front, you set a tone of respect and courtesy.

Monitor and Give Feedback

Giving proper feedback on the positives and negatives of a project is very important. Leaders sometimes erroneously think that if they are not able to give their team rewards, they cannot do anything. Never underestimate the value of a pat on the back with a "good job" accompaniment. If you think people are doing a great job, tell them. In some cases, leaders praise people at the onset of the project but forget to include feedback over the extended time of the project. Remember, praise costs nothing. Point out positive actions with comments. This positive reinforcement helps keep people focused on the right track. On the other hand, you need to be willing to discuss where team members are lagging behind on the project. There must be a willingness to talk about whatever is needed to drive the project.

Keep Communication Open

Keep communication flowing; it helps the productivity and efficiency of the project. Avoid one way communication which is only from top management downward. Communication is needed which crosses department lines and keeps everyone informed and on board. The creation of communication plans, as discussed earlier, can assist in this area.

Keep the End Goal Clearly in Mind

Leaders can become sidetracked and forget the need for monitoring the project dates. People may lose focus during a project and allow deadlines to drift. If the missed deadline is early on in the project, it can have a major ripple effect. Once a project starts running late, one missed deadline may lead to other missed dates. If not corrected, this ripple may continue until the end of the project. This creates much pressure for those working on the project down the road because they will inherit the project already behind schedule.

Dr. Keith Mathis, founder and CEO of The Mathis Group specialises in Project Management, Management Leadership, and Marketing training for private businesses and government agencies of all kinds. He offers 33 Project Management courses, is a Project Management Professional, is certified by the Project Management Institute and will customise every training session to your individual company's needs. The Mathis Group also sponsors which is a powerful project management resource with free reports, podcasts, videos, and a monthly newsletter. He also offers customised management training and coaching on any subject with prolific communication and professionalism.

Comments (1)

Topic: Six Ways to Give Proper Project Leadership
5/5 (1)
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
1st September 2016 8:22am
Sheena (Underwood) says...
I have read this to assist me to do a Project Plan for an assignment. I found it easy to read and it has given me a great basis for how to proceed. Thank you.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

How many letters are in the word four?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Is Your Project Proposal READY?

Businessman saying: Are you ready in retro style pop art

The mnemonic READY is useful when creating a project proposal. It will help you produce a project proposal that's difficult to ignore.

Demand a Strong Project Plan

Gantt chart

What to look for to advance your consulting projects from contract to execution.

Building Your Project Team

Friendly successful project team of young executives

How should you set about choosing people for your project and forming them into a well functioning project team?

Effort Estimating: A Primer

Effort time money blue dice representing the ingredients for business

Good estimating is a skill like any other, it can be developed with practice to the point where it may seem like magic to the uninformed.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Aimee Windmiller-Wood commented on…
Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager
- Thu 23 February 5:06am

Liam commented on…
High Anxiety: Managing Projects With Your Pants Down
- Fri 17 February 9:27pm

Daniela commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 2 February 3:21pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Help With My Project Management Dissertation #projectsmart #pmot about 2 days ago

General Project Management • Prince2 Advice #projectsmart #pmot about 3 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Interview Help 30-60-90 Plan #projectsmart #pmot about 3 days ago