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BEING A PROJECT LEADER

Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

The concept of control is often misunderstood, because for many people the word conjures up images of stern discipline and barked orders. But the fact is a project leader has a role which requires the ability to bring a successful project to conclusion through the careful use of control and governance.

Being a project leader has many challenges, and one of the most challenging is the ability to exercise control so that team members stay motivated while fulfilling their own roles. The old-fashioned manager barking orders is gone for the most part, and has been replaced with a leader using a skill set which promotes team member and project success.

Unifying Force

So what exactly does being a project leader involve? It involves a variety of duties and responsibilities with the leadership function serving as the unifying force. Controlling a project does not mean ordering people to do specific jobs. It means bringing human and other project resources together to create an efficient process for achieving specific goals.

Leadership is an umbrella function that encompasses the people, processes, systems and resources needed for the project to succeed. This complex and encompassing nature of the project leadership role means the leader must be prepared to deal with complicated and interrelated systems which operate in the larger organisational framework.

  • Manage the human side of the human resources which often includes conflict resolution
  • Manage the activities and processes which make up the critical path
  • Develop a project plan which is then monitored and adjusted as circumstances require
  • Adapt project schedule to keep project on track
  • Develop and/or monitor project budgets
  • Recruit team members as needed
  • Deal with cross-functional matters including inter-departmental and inter-organisational
  • Provide essential project reports
  • Serve as liaison between project team and management/executive staff
  • Manage supply of resources including handling scarce resources or changing needs
  • Train team members

It is clear that being a project leader requires many different skills, but it is strategic application of skills which separates the good leader from the ineffective leader. Strategically planning, monitoring, and training require having a clear understanding of the project goals and being able to translate activities into planned results.

Participative Management

The application of control by a strategically minded project leader involves participative management. With authority and control comes a responsibility to exert power in a way that increases business competitiveness and success. Participative management enables team members to have regular input into the project with the understanding the project leader has the final authority.

Many times the organisation discovers project leaders need additional training in order to fulfil the many functions expected to be diligently handled. The truth is the project leader, unlike the team member or even the executive staff, must have a variety of skills to accomplish important tasks.

  • Ability to manage job functions
  • Ability to delegate
  • Ability to communicate
  • Ability to make strategic decisions
  • Ability to manage conflict
  • Ability to serve as a liaison between team and those outside the team

Providing the necessary training to be a team leader is the first step to take towards insuring the leader has the variety of skills to handle the job the way it should be handled. The benefits will extend far beyond the project team itself. The benefits will go to the organisation as a whole as the successful project management leads to increased competitiveness, profit and success.

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