Project Managers: Leading When You’re Not Always the Leader

A leader does not necessarily need to have the title. Any team member can be a leader and an example for their coworkers. Being a leader involves having an informal approach to your colleagues, but to be there to put in the work as part of the team. A leader finds ways to build upon a project, to come up with ideas, and address concerns. A leader is not afraid to step up and accept the challenge when the task seems difficult or even impossible.

Companies have encouraged more project managers to step up and act as a leader, often times without the specific title. A good team leader practices excellent leadership skills, project management skills, and even displays people skills. You will need to communicate to your team members in a way that is friendly, professional, and provide positive feedback as necessary. It is important not to speak to your team members with a condescending or demeaning attitude.

To be an effective project manager and leader you need to be able to see the big picture and how this project benefits the company as a whole. You need to analyze the task and develop personal goals to ensure the project’s overall success while being mindful of your team members’ responsibilities. A good leader also steps in and helps out when a team member is falling behind or is struggling with a particular project. Leadership is not about praise, merit, or reward, or even the power. Leadership is about getting things done in the best way possible and coaching team members to display the attitude.

An important quality that project managers and leaders need to have is the ability to make decisions and problem solve, often times on a whim. Many projects have tight deadlines and little room in the schedule and budget to spend a lot of time on making decisions. As a result, this quality isn’t encouraged so much as it goes without saying.

Project managers and leaders, even if they aren’t leaders, need to realize their own roles and how it affects the team. You need to look at every situation from different points of view. Look at each task from a political, personal, and organizational point of view. Don’t be afraid to exert your influence. Show you are confident in your role and understand the task inside and out. Be sure to also establish yourself as a go-to for your team members.

Part of being an effective leader is knowing people. Observe your team members’ behavior. This will help you establish communication patterns and learn how to talk to your team members on a constructive level. It is important to always remember the importance of business ethics. Steer clear of problems and map out resolutions to help avoid conflict wherever necessary. Have a detailed plan of action for each task and let your team members modify it with their own approach, allowing time to ultimately reach goals.

Project managers often find themselves in the difficult position where they must act like a leader but aren’t really told to do so. This sort of situation happens naturally since project managers are proactive thinkers and doers and will do what it takes in order to make decisions, problem solve, and get projects done.

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