10 Traits of a Great Project Leader

In this whiteboard session, Jennifer Bridges shares the The Top Ten Traits of a Great Leader.


Hello, I’m Jennifer Bridges (formerly Whitt), Director at ProjectManager.com. ¬†Welcome today to our whiteboard session on one of my favorite topics, The Top Ten Traits of a Great Leader. Have you ever walked into your project and looked around, and no one’s there? Well, by chance, if that’s ever happened to you and it’s happened to most all of us, then you’re probably not leading your team. If no one’s there, you’re not leading your team.

So, we get a popular question, one that I love, and it’s highly debated. It’s, “What are the traits of a great leader?” If you Google the term “leader” you get over 1 million results. If you go to some of the LinkedIn discussions if you go to our LinkedIn group or even our blog, people are asking, “What is a leader? What is leadership? How do I really lead my team?”

Well, those are some of the great discussions, and you can see varying opinions from everywhere. So today, what I’m going to present to you is overtime and experience, I’m going to present what I find the ten traits that I look for in a great leader. So what I subscribe to you is, find a model of someone that you find yourself following.

So if you’re following a great leader, realize and begin studying them. Who am I following, and what makes me want to follow them? So for the people that I follow and like to follow, these are some of the traits that I found that I like about them and that I try to replicate myself.

Number one is being grounded and centered. This is where the people that you see, great leaders, they can’t be knocked off base. They can’t be knocked off center because they’re centered and grounded. They have that strategic pause. They actually decide instead of react.

Number two, aware and mindful, I feel like great leaders are very aware and mindful of not only themselves, but their team members and the people they’re interacting and how to get people to work together effectively. They think about things like patterns. What are my patterns that I usually do? What are patterns of other people? What are the triggers? What triggers responses in myself as a leader and what triggers my team members? What are projections?

As a project manager, many times you’re standing in the front as a leader, and projected as for the males, a father figure, or females, a mother figure, and there can be projections with that. So great leaders have these things in mind, and they’re taking that into consideration as they’re working among their team members or people that they’re leading.

Number three, they create solutions. They’re thinking of bigger ideas. They’re looking at a bigger picture, thinking of ways to do things creatively, things that haven’t been done before. They’re good about analyzing facts looking at what are the patterns. What are the patterns here and what needs to be done?

They evaluate risk. They don’t only identify them, but they’re great at evaluating. Well if we do A, then this will occur. If we do B, then this will occur, so being able to evaluate risk and being able to prepare for the risk and put plans in place. They generate a sense of urgency. Many times, as you see on your own teams, you have to have urgency within the team to get things done, and a great leader has a way to get the team to get into action.

They use insights. So, intuition is a tool that we all have. But a lot of times, we don’t use it, so we forget about it or it gets out of tune because we forget to listen to ourselves. Or once we have an intuitive feeling, we talk ourselves out of it with logic. Great leaders use their insights and make decisions.

They build cohesion among the team members or people involved in their initiatives, being able to get people to work together. They motivate people, so actually getting people to be motivated. They want to be there, they want to be involved, they’re engaged and they believe in the cause. They actually achieve results, so we’re all, as project managers, responsible for achieving results in our projects, so in getting our team members to buy into that and produce results.

So, these, I feel like, are ten top traits of great leaders that I follow. So your list may be different, again, by finding your model and studying them, and trying to replicate the traits that you find effective for your teams.

A bonus here, I found that all great leaders that I know, that I study, that I follow, they have their own mentors. So they’re always learning and growing from their mentors. They don’t feel like they know everything. They’re always learning and they also have mentees, so they’re always mentoring others. They’re teaching. They’re sharing their ideas.

One thing that I’ve learned by not only having my own mentors, but my own mentees is I learn from my mentees as well as I learn from my mentors. So it’s a great cycle. Then the keywords that I feel like, in looking at the great leaders that I follow, is they have a great sense of curiosity. They’re always wondering why. They’re looking at things in multiple angles, different angles.

They always ask questions. They’re great at asking questions and getting people to think about how to do things themselves, they don’t always give the answer, but they’re always asking a great question and asking the other person to look within and come up with their own conclusions of the best thing to do. They’re constantly learning and they have a passion for what they do.

If you’re looking for any additional tips, tools, or techniques to become a great leader for your teams, then visit us at projectmanager.com.

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