Project LeadershipProject ManagementProject Management Office

Convert Good Project Management into Great Project Leadership

For the project management office (PMO) to be successful in the long term, it needs to be constantly improving the skills of its project managers. Particularly, managers need to be developing their comprehensive leadership skills. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Rebecca Leitch highlights the need for a greater emphasis on soft skills in developing managers. Such skills are not as easy to objectively measure or train for, but they are too important for the PMO to leave to chance. Great soft skills are what transform project managers into project leaders, and leaders are people who possess the following things:

  1. Ability to break down silos
  2. Strong communication skills
  3. Ability to manage up and down
  4. Conflict management skills

Insight to Lead

Silos help isolated pockets of people maintain the status quo at the cost of everyone else in the business. Sometimes, silos even occur invisibly as a result of people’s age, gender, or location. In all cases, project leaders must identify these barriers to greater performance and cut them down. Similarly, project leaders should be able to manage in all directions to get the result they need. That might mean guiding stakeholders, or it could mean learning how to motivate a team member who does not report directly to you.

Strong communication skills are a trait featured in every “how to be a good leader” article ever, so that really warrants no additional elaboration. But about conflict management skills, Leitch says this:

The hardest part of the job is managing the people who are doing the work and who can help mitigate—or in the worst cases, escalate—risk.

Project leaders are managing a variety of personalities and must be able to not only empower individual voices to speak up when challenges arise, but also be able to diffuse unavoidable personality conflicts and remind the team of the shared goal.

Managing a PMO and being responsible for all of the projects that contribute to an organisation’s success is not an easy job. It’s certainly not made easier when the moving parts and dynamic personalities at play test the limits of a team’s relational skills.

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