The role of the leader is often crucial in achieving the objectives of the project. Although projects can fail for external reasons unrelated to the capabilities of their leaders, a large number of projects are leader-sensitive and depend on the personal qualities of the project manager. Leadership skills will help the manager to accomplish the assignments, achieve goals and manage the workforce. The most important skills, in general, are those that relate to the ability to manage team members involved in the project.
The project manager needs to keep control of the four basic elements of the project: people, time, money, and scope (Reh 2006). To ensure that people, the most important resource of most projects, are managed effectively, the manager needs to focus on “developing a grand vision” (Kotelnikov, 2004). This includes the ability to set effective goals for workers and provide means for their achievement. Employees involved in the project should be able to understand where they are going.
For this purpose, the manager also needs to communicate this vision to employees. Communication skills, therefore, become an important element of project management, constituting the focal point of any leadership endeavor. It is important to master the art of both verbal and nonverbal communication, develop the ability to process complex messages and to provide timely feedback, and disseminate information in an effective way. The project manager thus needs to learn a variety of communication ways including personal meetings, presentations, e-mail communication, and other ways to connect with the team.
In general, the project manager needs to possess credibility in the eyes of the team. This translates in the trustworthiness in the eyes of not only project team members, but also clients, upper management, and any other stakeholders in the project. Participating in a current technological project in my company, I have noticed that our project manager has won credibility through his extensive experience in the field, specialized education and ability to give balanced, informed opinions on factual matters.
Motivation skills are also an integral part of effective management (Kotelnikov, 2004). A manager needs to learn how to motivate workers to perform their functions with enthusiasm. Acquaintance with most important motivation theories and experience in working with people can help one achieve this goal.
Last but not least, a project manager needs to possess conflict management skills (Management Concepts 2006). The conflicts between members of a project are likely to arise for various reasons, and the manager needs to know how to resolve them effectively. I can remember several conflicts in our project, most of which were resolved by team members, but some required the interference of the project manager.
The list of leadership qualities that are necessary for a project manager is by no means exhaustive. In any case, the importance of the ability to lead people toward the successful accomplishment of a project cannot be overrated. The leadership skills of the project manager often become a critical component of the project’s success or failure.
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