All project leaders are different, from their thought processes to their daily interactions, but there are a few things that great ones do every day that just might set them apart from the rest.
Great project leaders make waves
Although it often is, making waves shouldn’t be confused with making trouble or making problems. Great change can only come about when project leaders remain in a constant and conscious state of continuous improvement. They make waves by performing the following tasks and services:
- Consistently identifying and discussing process improvements
- Continually looking to reinforce best practices
- Remaining transparent about problems as they arise with sponsors and stakeholders
- Directly addressing conflict as they arise
- Redirecting focus back to the client or stakeholder whenever necessary
- Seeking opportunities to share project experiences and lessons learned with stakeholders, other leaders, team members, and sponsors.
- Standing up for what’s ethical, fair, and right, even when it may not be popular
They demonstrate their best professional self
Great project leaders strive to exude all the qualities that allow them to be at their best, personally and professionally, at all times…or at least as much as possible. They have to speak to shareholders from all parts of the business and be persuasive in those conversations. That requires a special set of skills that include the following:
- Confidence in their abilities, which allows others to feel confident in their leadership
- Humility which allows others to see them as human
- Respect for others at all times, this creates higher levels of morale
- Trust in others, which helps them remain trustworthy
- Fairness when making decisions
Recognize and appreciate others
This is an important point that can easily go unnoticed. With the hurried pace of projects these days, project leaders can easily get caught in the rush and forget to recognize some basic human needs in team members, stakeholders, sponsors, and executives. A great project leader makes team members feel included like they have a voice that matters.
He or she also keeps them in the know, recognizing their efforts and connecting them to the big picture and bottom line. Great project leaders do the following:
- Listen to the ideas of others, regardless of their rank in an organization
- Recognize and voice appreciation for the efforts of others
- Allow opportunities for individuals to demonstrate their highest-level contributions and to receive recognition for those contributions
- Say thank you for a job well done (This is so simple but often left unsaid)
Keep the communication flowing
Sometimes keeping the communication flowing even when things may seem at a standstill creates activity by providing reminders that help when schedules are hectic, and things can easily be missed. Great project leaders recognize that ongoing communication is paramount to successful business outcomes. With that in mind, project managers must remember to regularly do the following:
- Remind team members, executives, and stakeholders that unfinished items still remain in the pipeline
- Offer peace of mind for others, as they know that a project leader is on top of things
- Make sure that there is accountability to stakeholders
- Communicate in an ongoing manner, which also provides stakeholders with confidence and trust in a project leader’s abilities
The sheer nature of project management requires a great deal of flexibility. Project leaders who are inflexible simply won’t be able to effectively deliver. The more project leaders can adapt and remain flexible, the greater chance they have of improving their level of customer service—and make no mistake; project management is most definitely a high-level, high-visibility customer-service field. Leaders need to remain flexible in the areas shown.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.