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How to Make the Most of Your Project Leadership Skills

A project manager sitting in a meeting with his colleagues in the background.One of the aspects of the project management role which most worries anyone new to it is the leadership involved in it.

Leading a project sounds like quite a daunting prospect but could it be that you already possess a lot of the necessary skills without being aware of it? Leading a project is a tough job but what do you already do or know which could help you out?

People Management Never Changes

I reckon that whether you have led a team in an office, in a factory, on a boat or anywhere else it can come in handy. The skills needed for people management never really change from one job to another so if you have done this in the past then you have a great head start. The fact that you are in a new role might be intimidating for you, and you might worry about whether the other team members all have a lot more project experience than you. However, you should remember that you have people management skills which you can transfer over from your previous roles.

Inspire Others

An important attribute for any project leader to have is that of being able to inspire others. This is a skill which comes naturally to some people and if that is the case with you then you will definitely be able to use it in this job. If it isn’t something which you are comfortable with yet then you can still work on it. There are lots of books, DVDs and other types of material around which you can use to improve this aspect of your leadership skills. Even if you are working on a rather mundane sounding project you will still find that the ability to inspire your stakeholders and team members is an invaluable skill to have.

A Positive Personality   

This point has a bit of crossover with the last one I think but it still deserves its own point apart as well. Many projects are long, complex affairs which can drain the energy and positivity from a lot of people. The project manager is the most important member of the team in this respect, as they need to get a feel good factor going when the work hits a sticky patch. If you are a naturally positive person then this is a part of your makeup which you should look to use to keep everyone else thinking positively. Clearly you don’t want to give anyone the impression that everything is going fine when it isn’t, but being able to smile and relax when you are facing up to a big challenge is a huge advantage in any type of work.

Use Your Experience

Even if you have never run a project before or even worked on one, you are sure to still have some sort of relevant experience which you can use to help you do a great job.  What I mean here is that you need to think about your past experience and see what elements of it could come in useful in your new role. This could be any one of a number of things. For example, maybe you worked for a terrific boss you would like to emulate or you were once in a dysfunctional team which taught you how not to do things. It might even be something from your personal life which you can use to help your career in project management. Personally, as I came from a background in analytical work I felt comfortable focussing on this aspect of the role while I got the training I needed on leadership skills and the other areas which I wasn’t so comfortable in.

Keep an Open Mind

If there is one thing which I learned is important in project management it is keeping an open mind. You will come across a lot of new situations and may have to react quickly to changing requirements. This means that you can’t afford to slip into the habit of doing the same thing every single day. Instead, you need to be alert and be aware of the way the project changes and evolves over time. By doing this you can truly lead it instead of being forced to struggle along in its wake. You can then define the course the project takes and feel that you have it under control as much as can possibly be expected. Your team members will no doubt note your approach and it will help them feel confident about the project.

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