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Leadership in Project Management: The Two Sided Coin
By Mary A Crow

Few introductory project management books dedicate any of their text to good behaviors of project leaders since they all follow the philosophy of how a project manager “manages” people via project management processes and they all shy away from how a project manager should be leading the project stakeholder units with hard and soft skills.

We should also recognize the other side of the coin for project leadership and understand where executive leadership is needed on a project, After all, senior management is involved with business plan and direction, project commitment, managing business change and helping to manage business risks and issues.

So, the project manager is not the sole provider of project leadership. To clarify, here are project areas where project leadership is needed and who can provide it:

  • Project Area for PM Leadership: Project Team, Technical Issues, Communication and Facilitation
  • Project Area for Senior Manager Leadership: Managing Business Change, Business Issues, Project Direction and Commitment
  • Project Area for PM and Senior Manager Leadership: Managing Risks, Managing Stakeholder Expectations

But even with the call out to where the project leadership responsibilities lay, a project manager must be empowered to operate effectively for project success. The majority of their decisions should be made independently without having to pass through the chain of command to operate effectively in their business environment. This involves using hard and soft skills that each project manager should possess:

  • interpersonal skills (getting along with people)
  • personal traits (attitude, value and personal conduct)
  • technology management skills (familiarity with technologies used in the project)
  • program management process skills ( understanding and using project management tools and techniques)

In summary, project leadership is the ability to motivate others to want to do what the manager thinks is the best thing to do. When both sides of the project leadership coin work together, it usually leads to project success without cost!

Mary Ann Crow, PMP

Professional Services Trainer, PMP certified with extensive and diverse experience in adult based training, business analysis, and consultation. Deliver preparation training for the PMP Certification Exam. Plan, design and develop writing content for the PMP Certification Exam Preparation instructor-led material, which includes test exam questions, and other companion documentation. All class material is aligned with Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) 3rd and 4th Editions.

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