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How to Be a Great Project Leader

A smiling, successful project leader.Every project manager wants to lead their project as powerfully as possible. If you come to this role thinking that it is all about filling out forms and drawing up plans then you will soon find out that there are a lot of people who are hoping that you will be a leader too. So how will you do this if it doesn’t come naturally to you?

Be Honest

The first thing you should aim to do in all of your projects is be honest. Your team and the stakeholders expect this but, above all else, you will feel a lot better about yourself if you know that you have acted with integrity and completed your work in an honest and professional way. This might not always be easy – especially when there is bad news to be broken – but you need to always do the right thing and make sure that everyone you work with sees you as a project manager who always tells the truth.

Inspire

There are times when the project will be difficult and everyone in the team will be low on energy and ideas. At times like this the project leader needs to dig up some inspiration from somewhere deep within them and inspire everyone else at the same time. If you aren’t used to people looking to you for inspiration then this can be a difficult situation to get used to. However, this is now part of your role and it is something you need to live with. Self help books might help you find the inner confidence you need, while speaking to older, wiser project managers is another smart idea for finding ways to inspire as you lead.

Set an Example

Everyone hates a leader who doesn’t lead by example. Have you ever worked for a boss who shirked their responsibilities and who passed all of the tough stuff onto their team? This is one of the worst things you can do, as it means that you will lose all the respect which your team needs to feel for you. Clearly you will want to delegate the work which can be done by other people but you always need to remember that you need to set an example to everyone else in the project. Sometimes this means doing the dirty jobs no one else would want to touch, like passing on bad news.

Enjoy the Role

Have you ever done well in a job you didn’t enjoy? It is a fact of life that we are far better at the things which we enjoy than at those which we don’t. The good news is that being a project leader is something you can really get a lot of pleasure out of if you give it a chance. It is a role which lets you use your head, make decisions and see end results. Every new project is likely to be on something new so even if you are a restless person like me you can stay interested in the work for a long time.

Take Pride In It

If you look on your projects as annoying things which are just there to make your life more complicated then you will want to get them out of the way as soon as possible. This will mean doing the work without much pride and not having a very good end result. However, if you take pride in what you do and carry out your job to the highest possible standard this attitude will filter down through the team. Carrying out a project with pride means doing the best job you could do but it also means being a champion for the project and trying to win over other people to the same point of view. You will find it a lot easier to get others to support your work if you show how important it is to you.

Learn the Skills

A lot of the things we have looked at here are soft skills but, of course, you can’t be a great project leader without the technical skills as well. I believe that anyone with the right attitude can learn these skills and put them to good use. Once you know your way around project plans and business cases then you can put the rest of your skills to use in the running of the project. It is this balance of technical skills and people skills which makes the job so interesting in my opinion.

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