15 Ways to Cultivate Your Project Leadership Style

If you are a new Project Manager, you really should think about leadership. It is very important to have a set of process steps to deliver successful project management. They will be your map for collaborative project management, without which you will get lost, your project may fail, and your project team will be disappointed in you. But even if you know how to navigate the project management terrain very well, you will need to do so with a leadership style that works for you and also works for collaborative project management. And if you are getting your stripes for the first time, this may be difficult for you.

In this article, I will introduce 15 ideas to ways to cultivate your leadership style. In a follow-up article, I will outline elements relating to the team.

Project Leadership Practices*

Good leadership is a choice you make. Great leaders are not born thus. Great leaders make the necessary investments. Taking responsibility to lead yourself to a better place one day at a time will help you become a strong leader for others. Are you in that good place already or are you prepared to make the commitment to get there? If so, here are 15 ideas to try.

  1. People willingly follow leaders they like, trust and respect. If you lose the respect of the team, leadership becomes very difficult, and sometimes too high a hill to climb. This means that the type of person you are and the type of values you live by will affect not only your leadership style but also your leadership success. People will not follow the “do as I say, and not as I do” leader for very long. What values do you live by? What is your moral compass?
  2. As a leader, you need to keep your eye on the mission, the project goals. And you need to help people maintain that focus. There is no point being a wonderful and inspiring project manager if you are not goal focused! There is no benefit in getting people all enthusiastic if you do not work with them to help them deliver the goods. Are you mission and objective focused?
  3. Lead by example. Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.
  4. Leaders need to create a dream, a vision, a goal and communicate this really well.
  5. Leaders need to know themselves and be self-aware. They need to practice what they preach and never bluff.
  6. Leaders need to have external awareness and should honestly, empathetically and respectively express the joy of success – and say “Thanks” more often; the pain of failure and concern at slow progress.
  7. Delegate Responsibly: The leader cannot and should not carry all. Assign work to people – delegate what you cannot reasonably carry.
  8. People are really able for lots of change and will withstand much if everyone gets fair treatment.
  9. Always be fair, firm yet friendly – the 3 Fs.
  10. Sincere communication is vital – ask and listen well so you can learn and lead.
  11. Do not make remarks on the person or personality – rather focus on the actions, tasks and the job at hand.
  12. Give very critical feedback in private and in person – in a one on one setting – not in the open plan office and never in a group meeting – and never on email.
  13. Leaders must be visible – they must be seen to be serving with the people they lead.
  14. As a new leader, you now have weight. Pull your weight- do not throw it around!
  15. If you breach any of the above desired leadership approaches, be big enough to admit it and apologize at the earliest possible time.

 

*A good leader should never claim the work of others as his or hers, so I better fess up! In 2009, the local university MBA class had a leadership lecture from the then Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Dermot Earley. I was invited as a local business person, as we recruit from the business studies department of this university. I was also invited as I am ex-Army. The lecture was one of the best I have ever heard on leadership. It was practical and extremely sincere. You just knew that this man lived these principles. Sadly, this great Army General and giant of a man died in 2010 while still serving as Chief of Staff. A number of the desired leadership practices cited above come from that lecture and my prior army officer training.


This article is an excerpt from the next edition of “Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook”. We would love your thoughts and feedback on this article and the handbook.  Leave a comment below or email cpm@brightwork.com.

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