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Is effective leadership in Project Management underestimated?

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Is effective leadership in Project Management underestimated?

Is effective leadership in Project Management underestimated? 800 600 Charlotte Edwards

Over the past few years, project management has advanced and changed dramatically, with new systems, techniques and best practices being shared amongst the project management contingent. By using innovative technology and program management, businesses are increasingly finding their projects to be successful.

Why then are projects still failing at an alarming rate?

As much as technology and strategy helps a project manager, a key trait is not noted in the job title: leadership. No matter how much technology or methodology is involved, a project manager still must manage a team of people, and it is this challenge that some project managers cannot overcome. Therefore, it is essential that leadership skills are sought and developed in project managers of all industries.

A leader and manager are two very different skill sets or traits.

Whilst a manager is focused upon the organizational structure, meeting deadlines and achieving milestones, a leader understands how to motivate, inspire and create team cohesion to ensure the very best outcomes and solutions. A project team is made from individuals from various backgrounds, all who are motivated by different interests. A leader understands how to harness an individual’s motivations to enhance creative productivity. When faced with a bump in the road or a challenge, a leader will embrace the difficulty and think creatively to source a solution. Project management methods which are prescriptive (traditional), do not set the answers to difficulties or challenges, and therefore a project manager with no leadership will struggle to achieve success.

However, a simple solution exists to aid project managers: training and a change in adopted values and methodology.

A more frequently used and non-traditional style of project management methodology comes in the form of AGILE, an iterative set of principles that puts leadership and people at the heart of its values. Many businesses have started to adopt these values and found an increasingly positive success rate, although it has highlighted a lack of leadership ability with the organisation. The iterative methods and values (AGILE, DSDM, SCRUM, CALM) allow constant and appropriate feedback throughout the duration of the project, and include all members of the team, from the business/project owner down the chain of command. This creates a culture of inclusivity, and makes employees feel valued and listened to, therefore increasing the productivity of the team. However, iterative methods will certainly fail without a talented leader.

In sum, leadership is a trait that is increasingly in demand for successful project managers, especially those involved in change management where altering business tools, strategies and systems requires a delicate touch. People will always be the common success factor in any project.