What Makes a Great Project Leader?
Learn the difference in roles between the Project Manager and the Team…
Hello. My name is Jennifer Whitt, Project Director of ProjectManager.com. Many times the hardest thing we can do as project manager is actually determine who’s on first? Really, it gets confusing with so many people on a team, it’s knowing the project manager and all the team members and the delineation between the roles. Sometimes in many environments, people are playing multiple roles. I’m sure you’ve seen in your own environment sometime the project manager can be a business analyst, they can be playing part of a technical role and it’s great to delineate the different roles.
So what we found in all of the different projects that we’ve been managing, we’ve seen trends, trends between project managers and, actually, team players. So what we want to identify today are, “What makes great team leaders? What makes exceptional team players?” They play just as critical a part as the project managers and vice-versa and also identify some of the project management pitfalls that actually entraps the project manager and impacts the project’s success.
So, first of all, what we want to talk about is the project manager. What really makes a project manager a great team leader? Well, first of all, it’s really applying some type of best practices. That’s why, in many areas, many companies look for project management professionals. Project management professionals have actually devoted time to actually study, learn best practices.
In some parts of the world, PMI, the Project Management Institute, has some best practices that they’ve been managing, maintaining, keeping revised and updated over many, many years. Some people are familiar with PRINCE and PRINCE2 as far as best practices, but some form of best practices. Many corporations actually develop their own best practices, but an exceptional team leader takes the time, the discipline and focus to actually learn and keep up to date on best practices.
Also, training. Project managers who are exceptional team leaders actually invest time, money and energy into keeping up to date on project management training. Where now, there’s so many options today, with on-line training, self-paced, downloadable, webinars, traditional course room training, there’s so many different avenues to get training for project managers but actually taking the time to keep up to date.
Also, we find being involved in conferences. There are project management conferences all over the world, great conferences internationally, even at the local level. Some of the Project Management Institute has local chapters, and so people getting together at those conferences to see not only some people across many parts of the world with whom they can come together and share ideas, but also learn from some of the thought leaders who are out there, who are doing the research, who are bringing back different best practices. So going to conferences, whether they’re local or somewhere nationally or internationally, being involved in those at the conference level.
Also, having project management software. I see many organizations that go in and do assessments on organizations even Fortune 500, large consultancies, and I’m always amazed to learn that people really are not applying or using project management software and there’s so many different choices out there today. Some teams are using nothing.
I have a global client, large insurance company, makes a lot of money and to learn that their team members, as of today, are still using paper to actually track task activities on a project. It can be done, however, an exceptional team leader is going the distance to evaluate project management software, make recommendations to the team and to the companies to implement this. There are many different options today.
Also, project management templates, an exceptional or great team leader can also use templates. Begin bringing together, such a time saver, and effectiveness and efficiency to use templates and having some layer of consistency and, actually, that begins to mature not only your project, but your organization.
Also, lessons learned, a great team leader applies lessons learned. They’re actually being conscious and aware of different projects, not only that they’ve been on but actually asking their colleagues, “What lessons learned can you share with me about this project, about this organization, even these team members?”
Bringing lessons learned together actually saves time, money and effort in managing the triple constraint and also they keep a project notebook so actually they can track, people can come at any time and see what’s happening at any level, at any time, on a project.
And, again, we know that some areas use an effective project notebook and can still be paper. Many organizations today can still use paper and now you see collaborative on-line software systems, some use SharePoint, some use projectmanager.com, many different applications today pull together a collective collaboration area where the project notebooks can be archived.
So those we feel make team leaders. So it’s not only just applying the art, and the science of project management, but actually applying some of these practices as well.
So what makes exceptional team players? So, for team players, likewise, they’re important, they’re critical for the team. So they’re not just doing task or producing deliverables, they are actually members of a team. So providing input into what’s happening, what’s going to affect the schedule, identifying and bringing input to the project manager and the team of what’s happening, bringing real-time information and not sitting on information and not sharing it, also, providing input to risk and issues.
Many times the team players are the people doing the work. They’re the best people to identify risk and issues and surface those and bring them up to the team and project manager so they can be handled appropriately and real-time.
Also providing input and status, not only in a real-time basis, but accurately, really paying attention to the information that they provide to the project manager, instead of just trying to save time and just throwing any status out there, it’s really valuable information, it’s accurate, and voicing and raising a hand on any delays or concerns.
Again, project team members, they’re there, they’re real-time on the project, raising their hand, letting some people know something maybe they’re working on that’s going to possibly cause a delay or a concern to the team. So instead of just working an issue and just working on it and hoping it’s going to be resolved and then come up on a deadline and miss a deadline because it wasn’t raised.
And also the task and deliverables, really knowing the difference between task and deliverables. It’s important to be working the task but also keeping in mind those tasks are actually being done to produce a deliverable.
So those are some of the things that we feel like makes an exceptional team player. It really takes a combination of great team leaders and exceptional team players to make the project more effective, efficient and more successful.
So now that we know what makes a great team leader and project manager, now we know not to fall into the PM pitfalls that we’ve seen so many times before. So if you need project management software, tools, tips, techniques, visit us at Projectmanager.com.