6 Leadership Tips for Project Managers

project-management-leadership-tipsIf you’re reading this, you are likely a project manager now or will be one soon. How well you do on actual projects depends as much on your leadership skills as your technical ones.

Here are six real-world keys which can help.

1.  Provide Common Vision

What was your best work experience?  If you’re like most people, it was a time when you were working with others on a clear, shared, achievable goal.  Commit yourself to creating these experiences for your teams.

2.  Self-Delusion Will Interfere With Your Best Efforts

If you don’t know where you are weak as a project manager, you will likely continue to make the same mistakes.  What mechanisms do you have in place for getting honest feedback?  Most of us will not get this kind of information unless we figure out ways to make it safe for others to give.  It’s up to you to create a team where such risk taking is welcomed and rewarded.

Get in the habit of asking, “How could this document, meeting or plan be improved?” or “What would you have done differently?”.

3.  Two PMs are better than One

If you’re a good project manager, it’s easy to start thinking that your way is best.  In reality there are as many styles as there are PMs. Try to befriend successful project managers who conduct themselves differently than you.  You’ll learn more than you think.

4.  Team Conflict is Neither Good Nor Bad

The question is not whether there is conflict, but what happens to it.  IT people tend not to like open expression of conflict.  The tendency is to cut it off or press it underground.  The result: gossip and festering.

How can you bring out the conflict on your team in a way that it can be expressed and resolved?  When you are able to do this well, you will be well on your way to having great team relationships and excellent project results.

5.  Company Culture Is Real

Dilbert, Office Space and The Office resonate with people for good reason.  If you can figure out how your company’s culture is part of the problem, and identify ways to deal with this, you’ll be far ahead in the game.

6.  Unexpected Change Destabilizes People

In times of uncertainty, more time will be spent discussing bleak possibilities than working on your project.  If your team knows (a) you get good information and (b) you share it with them, then they’ll be productive even when the ground under them is shaking wildly.

There you have it.  Six tips for being a project leader in the top 10% of your class. I look forward to celebrating with you in your project management success.

Be well and most of all enjoy your new profession!

Alec Satin, PMP

This post was adopted from Things I Learned.
(Creative Commons photo credit: Travis Vachon)

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