January 16, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

7 Key Leadership Actions for Project Managers

Fulfilling the role of project manager for any length of time will call upon your leadership skills.  Especially in today’s complex world, the project management function is no longer a controlling function, but rather a function of leadership and facilitation.
7 Leadership skills for project managers

Project Leadership Skills

It has been said that the true measure as to whether someone is a leader is whether they have followers. Building a following as a leader is a vital component in your success and getting the results that you want. For a project manager your leadership reach is usually the project/program teams that you work with. This means that you don’t have the luxury of earning respect as a  leader over time, but you need to establish your credibility as a leader up front at the beginning of project.

So what are the 7 KEY leadership actions you can take to establish credibility as a leader?

Action 1: Demonstrate Competence

As the leader, people need to have confidence that you are a competent project manager. Being competent is not about being the expert in every area but having enough skill and experience to make effective decisions.

Action 2: Show Your Commitment

Project managers move between different organisational departments, different functional teams and sometimes they move between different companies (like contractors). While working with a particular organisation and functional team, it is of vital importance to demonstrate you commitment by working hard on a day to day basis. This will also set an example of the commitment you expect from your project team members.

Action 3: Be Consistent and Only Promise What You Can Deliver

Consistency is by far one of the key actions to establish yourself as a respected leader to be trusted. Consistent leadership requires you to be consistent with how you treat all people. Closely related to this is to only promise what you can deliver (agreed scope) and then to deliver as per requirements (satisfied stakeholders).

Action 4: Be an Active Listener

Most leaders are excellent at getting their points across verbally and in writing. Exceptional leaders are also exceptional listeners. Leadership requires you to pay attention to active listening.

Action 5: Prepare For Meetings and Presentations

You might have heard the statement, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Running a meeting or making the presentation is the easy bit. The key action is to always be prepared and have specific objectives or an agenda for every meeting.

Action 6: Take Responsibility

You get the rewards of being a leader and at the same time it comes with responsibility. When issues arise (as they always do), make a point of taking responsibility. You are ultimately accountable for the success of the project.

Action 7: Act with Integrity

A golden rule for all project managers in leadership positions is to make sure your behaviours or actions will be authentic and based on integrity.

Leadership is key

Leadership competence is not an optional project management skill, but a key part of being a successful, professional and efficient project manager. Make these 7 leadership actions part of your regular project manager make-up.  Credibility will come naturally as a result of applying these actions in your day-to-day management of projects. Your leadership skills will continue to grow stronger with experience; remember to enjoy the ride….

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About the author: Linky van der Merwe is a Microsoft Project Management Consultant and an IT Project Manager with more than 11 years Project Management experience.

She consults with business owners and service professionals about project management and project processes, best practices and successful delivery through projects. She is most experienced in corporate infrastructure projects (upgrades, migration, deployment etc) and process optimisation. She can be reached at linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com


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