3 Leadership Skills Project Managers Need

3 Leadership Skills Project Managers Need

Why do project managers need these 3 leadership skills?  Simply put – all managers lead projects at some stage of their career.

Some managers lead and take part in projects as their ‘day job’, and the list of skills needed to succeed is long and can be daunting. I am therefore focusing on three, less obvious and most critical leadership skills project managers need to practice and hone.

Leadership Skill Number 1: Imagineering

Imagineering is the ability to build a clear and compelling vision of success. The vision will enthuse people to give up their most precious resource, their time. I put this skill first as all projects are a journey from the present to the future.  We convert thinking and ideas into tangible actions, deliverables and results. Start with the end in mind!  Specifying the destination is the first critical piece of thinking. Yet is often overlooked.

Imagineering in a project context is a simple technique. Assume the project team is reviewing the completed, successful, project. Note the positive frame of mind and the past tense that you need to do this well. What are you celebrating? What exists now that did not exist at the start? Who has benefited and what are they be saying about the success of the project?

Time spent thinking as a team leads a detailed and compelling picture of the destination.  This leads to more energy to fuel the journey that lies ahead.

Leadership Skill Number 2: Influencing

Influencing is all about the ability to win hearts and minds.  This is the second of the 3 leadership skills project managers need.  A good influencer knows the difference between a genuine commitment and an easy ‘yes’.  Easy “yeses” are at best a ‘maybe’ and in reality often a ‘no’. Learning to communicate and influence is a skill that most of us have to learn and practice. Doing this with integrity is even harder!

We all have our own unique ways of processing information and drawing conclusions. There are many profiling tools that can help you understand how you do this.  More important, you can use them to build relationships with others too.  We use ‘Clarity4D’.  Learning how to adapt your communication style to influence is critical to leading projects.

Your challenge is to break the habit of transmitting information only. People do not have the time, or the inclination, to engage with your message. Don’t worry, the irony of saying this in a blog is not lost on me!

There is far too much ‘noise’ already in the world don’t you think? If you need evidence of this check your Inbox.  How many emails are written to suit your preference? Few, I bet! Now check your Outbox……For more on this skill take a look here.

Leasership Skill Number 3: Decision Making

The ability to choose the best decision making process, at the right time, is the third of the 3 leadership skills project managers need. All projects need leaders to make decisions. I have observed leaders seeking to collaborate and assuming consensus decisions to be best. This is fine if the decision you are taking requires genuine commitment, but most do not. Consensus decision making is the best for commitment, but it takes the longest to do.  Concensus also requires great influencing skills (see comments above!)

In my experience, consensus soon becomes compromise, resulting in a poor quality decision.  This means, the decision has to be remade at a later date.  There are 6 decision making processes, from autocracy to concensus.  A skilled project manager needs to be be able to deploy them all.Click here if you’d like to read my previous blog on this topic.

The 3 leadership skills project managers need are a small, yet vital, part of how we support our clients with their overall approach to projects.  For more on “DELTA Team Based Project Management” please follow this link.  You will also find a quick Health Check you can download to see how well you are doing currently.