What kind of Project Leader are you?

Project Leader

LOS GATOS, Calif. January 11th, 2016 - I don't know why but I hate the term boss. I've been a developer, project manager, resource manager, consultant, and author. In there in some of those positions I've been a direct manager of up to 22 resources so I've been a boss, but I hate the term. I consider it somewhat slang and divisive even if the rest world doesn't agree with me. So forgive me if I don't ask “What kind of boss are you?” It makes my skin crawl.

But I digress. Back to the topic at hand... What kind of project leader are you?

As you think about this statement, there are several factors to consider. The purpose, really, of evaluating this concept is to try to figure out what kind of leader we think we are, what kind of leader our team thinks we are, and identify areas where we are strong and where we might need to improve. I personally went through this process to examine more about what areas I need to work on and what areas I could focus on as strengths and I really believe it has made me a better and more organized project manager, consultant, and resource manager.

Let's consider these three actions...

Make a list.
List what you consider to be many of the most critical/best practices tasks that are involved in the position of project management – especially as it pertains to your job in your organization. Why? Because, yes, project management is project management...but all organizations are different with different policies, practices, requirements and expectations of the project manager and team. So look at this list in terms of your situation only.

Run through it with your team.
Let's say you're managing five different projects right now. And you have five weekly team meetings for those five projects. And five different teams – likely with very little resource overlap from team to team. So you have a great opportunity to take 10-15 minutes during each of your upcoming team project meetings to hear their ideas on what your are best at and what you may want to focus on for improvement. And don't be thin skinned...this is your opportunity to really find out what kind of leader others think you are. Really...if you're leading these people then their opinion of your leadership should count for a lot, right? It may be great to hear, and it may be hard to hear...but you need to hear it and you should want to hear it.

Take notes and make a plan.
Take good notes or even ask for your team to turn in some documentation of this discussion. You can even turn the team discussion into an anonymous paper-based survey if everyone is uncomfortable with this – but I would avoid that if at all possible. So take the team input and what you've personally documented, and work out a plan over the next 30 days on how you might work on the top 5 things on the list. Work out a similar 60 day plan for the next 5 things on the list and so on. It doesn't have to be detailed or take an extreme amount of planning. If project financials are on the list of weaknesses, just force yourself to focus more on how you handle those – make yourself take the time to do a better job analyzing and forecasting financials on your project. That might mean seeking help from another project manager in order to master it. I've done that on PM job skill areas that I seemed to be lacking in...we all should do this.

Summary
Understanding what type of leader we are and where are strengths and weaknesses lie can help us to lead better projects and teams in the future. And it can help us to better channel our strengths toward our customer's needs resulting – hopefully – in a higher degree of customer satisfaction across all of our projects.

About The Author

Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Visit Brad's site at www.bradegeland.com .