How project management and leadership intersect

Being an effective leader takes project management skills. At least once a month, organizational leaders ask themselves, “Are projects being managed effectively and completed successfully and on time? Is there role and responsibility confusion among team members? How is the leader viewed at the conclusion and close-out of a project among peers and those in higher positions?”

Why are the answers so critical to being an effective leader? Every project has a different effect. Some are smaller than others and some are much larger than originally expected. Each type of project, small and large, benefits from project management principles to meet the project requirements. This assists in making the team and the leader of the team(s) be seen as productive and effective, not only to peers, but also to those in a higher leadership role.

What does project management have to do with being an effective leader? A simple Google search on leadership skills will offer tons of materials. Effective leaders possess many skills; among them are communication skills, the ability to convey and inspire a strong vision, ways to measure success and motivate others to embrace the path, and a need for project updates via status reports, regular meetings, or budgetary dashboards to monitor the high performers.

The principles of project management include each of the above described skills of an effective leader. Effective leaders have many more skill sets. Project management includes communications management. A leader who cannot convey their message cannot function as an effective leader. A trail of confused team members will be left in their wake to create an ad-hoc team to manage perceived project deliverables. This leads to team chaos and perhaps even an unsuccessful end project.

The leader’s ability to convey and inspire a strong vision lies in how the project is integrated. Defining the project’s purposes unifies the reality of the project and instills a sense of accountability among the team members. It establishes the objectives that build the foundation of the project and all of its components. The vision includes describing the best and most appropriate way to reach stakeholders to establish positive buy-in.

Stakeholders are not always positively on board for a project. Negative stakeholders may not be on board and want to see the project fail. It is critical to motivate others to embrace the project path. Determine how budget, schedule, resources, and risk-monitoring updates are going to be conveyed to leaders and stakeholders, as appropriate.

Recognize who on the team are the high performers. This can ultimately lead to a career track in an organization for such high performers. A leader with effective project management skills will be at the top of their game to tackle these project components.

The leader knows that the principles of project management include a staffing plan or resource plan. This plan defines which employees are responsible for which task(s) and their overall roles. It is important to match a team member’s skill set to the assigned project role. The project responsibilities must be delegated to capable and competent individuals. Being able to define and list this information related to project tasks and activities for the entire team minimizes confusion and clarifies specific roles and responsibilities. The staff performing these assigned roles and completing these tasks need to understand what authority they have to make decisions concerning their specific area of the project and to whom they report. Ensuring answers to these questions in a team chart or plan is critical.

Each leader strives to be seen in a positive and productive light by peers and those in higher positions. Completing a project successfully, on time, and on budget will earn kudos from all those who have a positive stake in the project end goals. The project updates will include the final documents used for administrative closure of the project demonstrating budget, resources and time criteria. Lessons learned will be conducted to capture information for future projects. This type of information is helpful for historical purposes and peers who may be managing a similar type of project team. As an effective leader you will be sought after to run more projects and perhaps even have a greater influence on organizational strategy.


Kathleen Federici is the director of professional development for the International Parking Institute.

Sourced from Training Industry.