2. The process of leading a project is more than
managing the project. The process of leading a
project entails the approach utilized to guide the
people involved (team, stakeholders,
organization) toward the accomplishment of the
This process involves your mindset and
leverages key skills like dedication,
interpersonal, adaptability, and customer-
Ensures the project is defined properly and completely
for success, all stakeholders are engaged, work effort
approach is determined, and processes are in place to
properly execute and control the project.
Serves as the central point of contact for all oral and
written project communications to key stakeholders.
Ensures that stakeholders and team members from
different perspectives understand each other and work
together to accomplish the project goals.
Utilizes root-cause analysis process
experience, prior project experiences, and
technical knowledge to resolve unforeseen
technical issues and to take any necessary
5. The Umbrella
Works to shield the project team from the politics
and “noise” surrounding the project, so they can
stay focused and productive.
Determines and communicates the role each team
member plays and the importance of that role to the
project success, finds ways to motivate each team
member, looks for ways to improve the skills of
each team member, and provides constructive and
timely feedback on individual performances.
6. Takes ownership
Takes responsibility and accountability for the project;
leads by example; brings energy and drive to the
project; without this attitude, all the skills and techniques
in the world will only get you so far.
Intensity with a smile
Balances an assertive, resilient, tenacious, results
oriented focus with a style that makes people want to
help; consistently follows up on everything and their
resolutions without “annoying” everyone.
7. Strong customer-service orientation
Demonstrates ability to see each stakeholder’s
perspective, ability to provide voice of all key
stakeholders (especially the sponsor) to the project
team, strong facilitation and collaboration skills,
excellent active listening skills.
Understands that methodology, process, and tools are
important, but without quality people it’s very difficult to
complete a project successfully. Acts ethically; protects
his team; takes teaching approach.
8. Always keeps eye on the ball
Stays focused on the project goals and objectives.
There are many ways to accomplish a given objective.
Especially important to remember when things don’t go
Balances passion for completing the project objectives
with a healthy detached perspective. This allows
him/her to make better decisions, to continue to see all
points of view, and to better anticipate risks.
9. Context understanding
Understands the context of the project—the priority that
your project has among the organization’s portfolio of
projects and how it aligns with the overall goals of the
Looking for trouble
Constantly looking and listening for potential risks,
issues, or obstacles; confronts doubt head-on; deals
with disgruntled users right away; understands that
most of these situations are opportunities and can be
resolved up-front before they become full-scale crisis
10. It’s about the people
There are those who maintain that project
management is about managing a process (or a
work plan), and not about managing people. Are
they serious? Who does the work? People. An
effective project leader takes a holistic view that
puts people first. This approach results in a focus
on establishing and building relationships, and on a
focus on gaining an authentic understanding and
buy-in from each stakeholder.
11. Visualize the goal…and the way there
This is the traditional leadership ability of
providing direction to the team. Not only does a
project leader need to clearly see the end and
be able to create this picture for everyone else,
but they must also understand how the team is
going to get there. The ability to see this big
picture is vital to keeping the project focused on
its primary objectives.
12. See with “their” eyes
A skill that is not natural for many, but an
invaluable one if you can do it. Look at your
project from the perspective of the other
stakeholders. What do they see? What are they
thinking? What do they need? This ability to
“take another’s perspective” is foundational to
building better relationships, developing
requirements, managing communications,
managing expectations, and building a
productive project team.
13. Earn their trust
Effective leaders are trusted by senior
management to do the right thing and to get
the job done. They are trusted by other
stakeholders because they manage with
integrity and consistently seek win-win
scenarios to any project challenge
14. Earn their respect
How do you earn the respect of project stakeholders, when
you do not have position power? There are four key
behaviours that affect the level of respect granted you by
First of all, show respect to each person you are dealing with.
Listen to them—I mean, really listen to them, respect their
time, and respect their knowledge, experience, and
Deal with reality, not what it should be or could be. Your willingness
to acknowledge and confront the realities of the project will be key
to your overall effectiveness.
15. Be fair
People may not always like final decisions, but
they will respect the decision and you if they
feel you handled the situation in a fair manner.
An approach to team management, decision-
making, and conflict resolution that emphasizes
fairness is key to earning the respect of others.
Lead by example, stick with your decisions,
maintain your principles, do what you say you
are going to do, and be emotionally steady.
16. Facilitate progress
As a project leader, you are focused on accomplishing the
project objectives, and you realize that one of the most
important jobs you have is to make it as easy as possible for
your team to complete their work. How do you do this? Think
of yourself as a conduit for progress, an enabler, a
productivity-enhancer. Some key actions include.
Anticipate issues, work to prevent them, and confront and
resolve the ones that do occur—quickly.
Create an open and honest team environment where
members are encouraged and comfortable to exchange their
thoughts and ideas.
Facilitate the decision-making process.
Get needed information quickly.
Ensure team has the structure, process, and tools to be as
productive as possible.
Work to reduce the doubt and uncertainty factor for others
17. Take ownership
Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind who is responsible
for this project. An “ownership” mindset manifests itself in
a persistent, results-focused, no-excuses attitude that is
undeniable and contagious to the other team members.
Like the proverbial willow tree that shows its true strength
when confronted with a ferocious wind, a project leader is
able to quickly adapt his approach and style to best meet
the needs of the project. Through a creative and flexible
mindset, a project leader understands that there are many
ways to achieve the targeted goals and works to make it
18. Be a teacher
A great model for the modern day project manager is that of
a teacher. In many situations, you are literally educating all
stakeholders regarding their roles and responsibilities in a
project approach. But in all project situations, taking a
teaching mentality—a mindset that sincerely wants others to
learn, grow, and improve—rather than a judgmental view will
be paramount to your leadership effectiveness.
19. Strive for excellence
An important trait of effective project leaders is their ability to
create confidence that the project will be well-managed and
that it will accomplish its goals. How do you do this? Be very
good at what you do, know what you are doing—exclude
competence and professionalism (note—I did not say
arrogance). The three simple keys here: be prepared, be
organized, and never stop learning and improving.
20. Compensate for weaknesses
A leader is humble enough, has enough self-awareness and
is team-focused enough to recognize his weaknesses. From
this recognition, he then builds a team and delegates
responsibilities to properly compensate. Again, it is difficult to
be proficient at everything, and it is much easier to leverage
the strengths of yourself and of your team to get the job
21. Showcase self-control
As a rule, most effective project leaders are models of
self-control. They are consistent and positive in their
behaviours and are generally immune from egocentric
approaches and significant shifts/swings in their
emotional stability (especially negative ones). In
addition, they are able to remain calm under pressure
and serve as model for others during stressful times.