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The Nine Traits of a Leader: charisma, individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, courage, dependability, flexibility, integrity, judgment, and respect for othersLeadership and Project Management

"I just want to be a project manager. I don't want all that responsibility." The room was silent, save a few exasperated sighs. We all looked around trying to figure out how we would handle the comment. However, there are many levels of project management maturity and only the highest levels require leadership. In fact, the prominent certification process—PMI's PMP®—has little to do with leadership. So where do we learn about leadership and how can we improve our leadership skills?

Tips and Techniques

You cannot teach leadership nor can you test for it. It is a set of traits we develop that are reflected in our core values and how we relate to others. Studying, learning, and mimicking various techniques are a start, but until they become part of our values and persona and are as natural as breathing, they are only superficial and we fall woefully short of being a leader.

Being a leader is a great aspiration, but requires more effort than that required to attain a simple certification. To understand what necessitates being a leader we can turn to the corporate world. In a Fast Company article by Heath Row, FedEx® specifically calls out nine traits to identify a person's leadership potential—charisma, individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, courage, dependability, flexibility, integrity, judgment, and respect for others. Here, they are paraphrased and grouped into three main categories.

Outward Actions

A leader is a role model for others in everything he or she does. They have charisma to instill faith, respect, and trust. They respect others opinions. Instead of berating, they carefully listen and excel as a coach and advisor. Using these skills, they have developed the ability to get others to think in new ways, identifying and questioning unsupported opinion and, in its place, use evidence and reasoning. This brings a fresh new approach to problem solving in the organization.

Direction

Leaders do not give in to popular views or demands and have the courage to withstand resistance against looking at ideas that are out of the mainstream—regardless of the personal cost. They are adaptive and effective in rapidly changing environments, with an ability to discern issues, simultaneously handling a variety of problems, and making course corrections as required.

Internal Responsibilities

Based on a strong sense of mission, leaders are dependable, keeping their commitments and taking responsibility for their actions and their mistakes. A foundation of internal integrity guides them through what is morally and ethically correct. Superior judgment allows a leader to evaluate multiple action plans objectively using logic, analysis, and comparison. They are pragmatic decision makers.

Leadership and Project Management

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With all that is entailed in being a leader, it is easy to understand why someone would make the distinction that all they wanted to be was a project manager. Minding the scope, schedule, and budget sounds quiet and peaceful, even mundane. Taking a subordinate, individual contributor role managing team members to someone else's direction, is tranquil in comparison to a leader's responsibilities. One must remember, though, there are two paths in project management—successfully managing the most difficult of projects as a leader, or following a cookbook project management style as a coordinator. The demand will increase for the former, while the latter will be commoditized and relegated to any resource, remote or local. To advance the project management discipline, leadership qualities are essential.

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Comments  

 
0 # Robin Eichert 2011-03-09 03:54
I agree that successful project management responsibilitie s require strong leadership. It would be impossible to separate the two! Thanks for your post.
 
 
0 # ProjectMgmt girl 2011-03-11 03:42
Definitely think the two are interconnected..here is a great software to help you both lead and manage your projects online! hope it helps, i found it really helpful and easy to use :) www.teambox.com
 
 
0 # Dave Gordon 2011-03-12 19:38
Of course you can teach leadership - it's been done for centuries. "Management" is the more recent concept.

Three well established approaches to leadership style include laissez faire, which implies low control, the autocratic style, which implies high control, and the participative style, which lies somewhere in between, and is frequently most effective when used with a highly skilled and motivated team.

Daniel Goleman's model of Situational Leadership is a relatively recent view that based on the application of emotional intelligence to leadership. Goleman describes six styles a leader can use: coaching, pacesetting, democratic, affinitive, authoritative and coercive.

info.worldbank.org/.../...

If you're serious about pursuing a career where you have to influence others with only limited authority, you need to study leadership.
 
 
+1 # Ian Birdsall 2011-07-27 14:56
Quoting Dave Gordon:
Of course you can teach leadership - it's been done for centuries. "Management" is the more recent concept.

Three well established approaches to leadership style include laissez faire, which implies low control, the autocratic style, which implies high control, and the participative style, which lies somewhere in between, and is frequently most effective when used with a highly skilled and motivated team.

Daniel Goleman's model of Situational Leadership is a relatively recent view that based on the application of emotional intelligence to leadership. Goleman describes six styles a leader can use: coaching, pacesetting, democratic, affinitive, authoritative and coercive.

info.worldbank.org/.../...

If you're serious about pursuing a career where you have to influence others with only limited authority, you need to study leadership.


To establish some minimal bona fides, I invested (I refuse to say that I "spent" any portion of my life, much as one would spend a $5 bill) 22 years as a military officer. I commanded the largest ground launched cruise missile supply squadron in Europe, I taught military leadership as an AFROTC instructor, and I retired from the Office of the Secretary of Defnse staff in The Pentagon. I earned a PhD in public sector strategy and have taught leadership and strategy at the graduate level. Leadership is often referred to as "the warrior's art."

I think both arguments have some merit. Yes, you can teach leadership, much as you would teach most any other subject. Leadership is often taught most effectively in an experiential format rather than an academic lecture (lectures can be useful if used correctly.) The difference between leadership and other subjects is a characteristic that FEDEX also missed. Passion for a cause greater than yourself. If you have been taught to do the budget, you can turn out a very good budget with little or no passion for it. But regardless of how much you intellectually know about how to be a great leader, you will always fall short if you do not have an abiding passion for a cause greater than yourself. In FEDEX, that cause would be to make FEDEX very profitable so all employees who have stock will continue to grow their portfolio and, in addition, have a steady, reliable job. The other characteristics mentioned by FEDEX are very important and must be inculcated into the leader's personality and being, but I would consider them to be necessary, not sufficient.
 
 
0 # Linky 2011-03-23 13:32
Leadership is something all mature project managers should develop and strive for.
A leadership style I have found to work well is facilitative leadership where you as the PM facilitate the team and guide them throughout the project to stay motivated and perform well and even beyond expectations.

Your VirtualPM, Linky
 
 
0 # Anne25 2011-05-14 05:26
I don`t know others, but now I`m using WorkforceTrack PM Tools. Found it very helpful and on time.
 
 
0 # david poole 2011-08-27 13:40
 
 
0 # amit 2011-10-07 05:54
Businesses these days are highly advanced and strictly target oriented. The main driving factors for businesses are the target and timeline. Hence, projects need to be managed quite proficiently in order to execute excellence at work. Project management as a concept is mushrooming as the times have gone digital and technologically sounder. It is the methodology and discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources of an organization to accomplish project missions successfully.
 
 
0 # daaf 2012-06-05 12:12
it is very good and important project management
 

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