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Project Management in the Real World

Leadership Skills essentials for all Project Managers

Project Management is a role which requires different capabilities and expertises. It’s defined by the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet established KPI’s in a certain period. Project Managers apply in their daily routine a set of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the results they are looking for.

A good amount of the work as a Project Manager involves communication among teams, clients and everyone else involved in the project (stakeholders). Organising the work and coordinating it’s essential to the project. The development of Leadership skills can be useful in this journey and make the daily life of the Project Manager easier.

In this article we gathered some tips to develop your leadership skills and consequently leverage your results as a Project Manager.

Communication

Managing communication is challenging, requires practise and commitment. Establish a plan and process it’s a starting point to manage communications across projects, it’s also essential to determine what information is needed in the organisation and who needs it. The next step would be to identify how often people need to get updates on progress and find ways to make the gathering and dissemination of information as efficiently as possible.

Below an example of Upstream and Downstream list, which can help you in this communication process.

Upstream

  • Project sponsor
  • Business owner
  • Comptroller
  • Other subproject groups

Downstream

  • Customer
  • Your team
  • Other subgroups relying on your teams’ outputs

Organisational Awareness

Companies are alive systems filled with professionals from all different kinds of skills, knowledge and cultural backgrounds. In this complex context the Project Manager needs to develop what we called “organisational awareness”, which means basically the awareness of how information’s flows, the strategic direction of the company or sector, and be immersive as possible in the culture. The set of abilities will help to discover the key people, main stakeholders and finally who has the information you need.

The image below shows how it works. 

Adapting to Different Learning Styles

As a Project Manager you will gain much more time and results if you can adapt yourself to the different learning styles that your stakeholders can have it. As stakeholders are the key for your project to succeed, it means that this knowledge is essential, and it takes time and experience to develop properly.

In the chart below you can see the most common styles and how ideally you could adapt your material/project/presentation to get the most from these different styles.

Political Intelligence

It’s a broad topic and it can be said affects every professional and not just Project Managers. The more experience you gain, the more you know how to identify when you need to use your political intelligence, that is extremely connected with your emotional one. Political decisions usually involve emotions, priority and intuition. When you build up your political intelligence you can understand better how the decisions are being made and you can construct alliances easily.

How to Build Up Political Intelligence

Even thought, political intelligence is a skill connected with your experience there are some strategies and practices that you can adopt to help in the process, such as:

  • Build credible and sustainable relationships by being yourself
  • Form alliances and coalitions
  • Expand your network in the organisation
  • Understand what motivates others
  • Manage your own reputation

How do you know if you are being politically effective?

You can check the items below and see how effective you are. 

  • The best political strategy is win-win
  • Define the political tactics you need to embrace by back casting from your future desired state
  • In other words, start with the end in mind then determine the tactics and courses of action that you need to pursue to get there

Empowering Delegation – Process View

Delegate properly is also important in the Project Management context. In fact, most of the work as a Project Manager requires some degree of delegation. But if you don’t have a structured plan, it's easy to lose productivity and all your hard work can become a mess. The image below shows an idea of flow that might help in the delegation process. 

Planning the Work: this part should include a timeframe for delivery, technology requirements, connection to other projects, available budget and risks.

Capability Assessment: it involves people, processes, technology and governance.

Workload Management: it’s essential here to prioritize the ongoing work and new tasks, check what can be put on hold, and have the information about extra resources available.

Delegation: it’s basically the act of deciding what and who, review who is available for that task and see if it must be delegated to a team or workgroup in the project.

Confirmation: review the entire process with the team, focusing on tasks, timeframe for the delivery and expectations.

Monitoring: in this point is important to follow-up on the information received and decide what kind of information will be reported and when.

Follow-up: finally review the work done, it’s essential here encourage the team to review their own work and provide feedback and ideas of what they would do differently next time. It’s the moment to close the chapter and try to collect as much feedback as possible.

Project Management is one of the growing areas in the IT market. A certified Project Manager can gain relevance in the competitive market and take their career to the next level. As we could see above leadership skills and soft skills are essential to help in this journey.

*The article above is based on our webinar "Project Management in the real world".

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At New Horizons Ireland we run a wide range of Project Manager courses which will lead you to your certification and take your career to the next level.

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