(Here you can find an instrument that enables you to assess your leadership preferences).
Importance of project management
Classically, there are two ways to compete in business:
1) By achieving and maintaining low cost and high volume
2) By targeting high value-added and building customer loyalty
The first requirs mastery of production capabilities, whether for a product or a service. The second involves the ability to constantly innovate in order to meet the needs of current or future customers.
However, even production capabilities entail improvement of the process, the methods and the tools, if low cost is not to be based entirely upon low labour costs.
Most companies cannot guarantee the lowest labour costs, and therefore need to compete upon some other basis that demands innovation and not mass production only.
The innovation of products and processes, services and systems, and their development, implementation and development necessitates project leadership skills at all levels, because the effort will be cross-functional and will requir decision making that is strategic, technical, operational and commercial.
Although organisations can squeeze their assets in a production environment over a long period of time, ultimately our economy and our future requir informed and well-instructed teams to innovate frequently and successfully.
Importance of leadership in project management
Companies cannot afford to waste their highly-educated, talented and high potential people resources. Automation, standardisation, routine procedures and high degrees of control are not the right way to release or reward creative brainpower.
Leaders in the organisation must build a climate that encourages inspiration and aspirations, fuels energy and mitigates stress. Creative team members flourish when they have a clear view of the end goal, a sense of purpose and cohesion, an organisation that fits the task, access to information and expertise, working tools, mutual support and recognition for their endeavours.
Leaders need to understand the factors that drive individual and collective motivation. They need to develop values that sustain trust; responsibility, respect, fairness and integrity. They must remain attentive to particular needs as well as managing the dynamics of the team.
Leaders demonstrate courage, tenacity and conviction in order to serve the team and to help them to achieve their ambitions; and they demonstrate the values and behaviours that people want to follow and that preserve their credibility.
Without project leadership competencies at executive level, project management levels and amongst the team members themselves, it is highly unlikely that the innovative products and services that our companies and economy requirs will emerge.
There are more opportunities to obtain return on investment by improving project leadership skills than in almost any other part of an enterprise.
Nature and character of leadership in project management
Project leaders ensure that voices are heard throughout the project and especially in the early stages; voice of the customer, of marketing, merchandising, promotion, production, sourcing, human resources, logistics, finance, safety, regulations, etc.
Project leaders are resolute, honest and forthright when communicating information, from the team to decision makers and from decision makers to the team.
Project leaders seek opportunities to make work simpler, more useful, more usable, more effective and also more interesting, knowing that interested people are more productive in creative work.
Project leaders organize the working environment in a way that respects differences in motivations and priorities that allow people to contribute in different ways.
Project leaders develop a distinctive style that nevertheless takes account of the realities of individual performance, strengths and weaknesses when working in a team.
How to develop a sense of leadership at all levels ?
A project leader may be inclined to a style that is more or less relational, process-driven, ideas-centred or action-oriented.
Relational-centred leadership skills are those that are sensitive and supportive of people
Process-focused leadership skills entail the structuring of change and communication management
Ideas-driven leadership interprets situations and integrates perspectives
Action-oriented leadership shows the way and pursues results with determination
No person can be equally strong in all areas; but the art of leadership is about developing the right balance; the woman or man of the moment.