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Project Manager : Project Manager Aug Sept 2013
18 Project Manager •COVER STORY WHEN PROJECT MANAGERS CAN ACT AS CHANGE CHAMPIONS, SELF-MANAGE BEHAVIOURS, HAVE EMPATHY, INFLUENCE STRATEGIES, MANAGE CONFLICT AND COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS, THEY WILL INSPIRE THEIR TEAMS TO CREATE GREAT PROJECTS and the ideal mix is someone who can achieve comfort and control and interact well with other people. Sandra Wood, people management expert at Great Managers agrees that "it is quite common for task- or achievement-oriented managers to be lacking in interpersonal skills, which must be addressed if they want to optimise leadership and maximise project deliverables. "We say that management is doing things right and leadership is doing the right things, but every management role requires elements of leadership and every leadership role requires elements of management, in varying degrees." So, how can project managers become better leaders? Leading projects and people Interpersonal skills, along with the ability to communicate with team members and stakeholders, are key to e ective leadership in a project setting. And for these skills to be present, a healthy dose of self-awareness, the right attitude and emotional intelligence are absolute essentials. "Self-awareness is foundational to leadership. It is also the foundation upon which all other emotional intelligence skills are built," says Wood. "Self-awareness allows people to be tuned in to themselves and others, allowing them to notice and act on things before they escalate, and essentially build strong relationships with key stakeholders to improve engagement." Hatcher agrees, and says that when project managers have enough self- awareness to recognise issues, act as change champions, self-manage behaviours, have empathy, in uence strategies, manage con ict and collaborate with others, they will inspire their teams to create great projects. According to Hatcher, the most successful projects have a combination of leadership inspired by the 'human' element and good technical ability. " e capacity to in uence others to achieve outcomes requires not just good and accurate infor mation transfer and the provision of clear direction -- leaders are role models who demonstrate their in uence strategies and pay attention to the way their people engage with their stakeholders to produce positive outcomes. Leaders also recognise the role of rewards and strategy in delivering success." Build effective relationships Another key component to e ective leadership is an oldie but a goodie: communication. A lack of e ective communication is one of the primary reasons projects fail. In actual fact it's relationships behind this that are often the culprits. "Project managers often underestimate the critical role that communication plays in aligning stakeholders to enable successful outcomes," says Hatcher. "Building cooperative relationships that seek to accommodate rather than dominate others will lead to what Robert Cialdini calls a climate of reciprocity, or cooperative behaviours, where the give-and-take of agreement is funded by goodwill." Baker reinforces this. "You need to use a raft of communication mechanisms in today's distributed business world," he says. "But you can't beat face-to-face contact. Any project manager must be having one-on-one contact with key stakeholders or sponsors at least weekly." Another way of thinking about relationships is to think about the social context of a project. e right social context is vital to success, and communication is vital in establishing this context. "As a species, our behaviours are powerfully driven by social context," says Sharpe. "Would you be comfortable facing the back of a crowded lift? Why not? is is social conte xt in action, and it in uences our behaviour. "As a leader, you must set the right team social context up front, to ensure that appropriate inclusion occurs with your senior stakeholders and team. If you want better engagement with stakeholders, you must hold yourself and others accountable. Fail and you'll end up with the 'yeah, yeah' dismissive hand waved at you when you want something done." Missing intelligence Despite the importance of leadership, the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK©) relegates leadership to an essential skill of project managers and leaves it there. More speci cally, a key aspect that is missing from traditional PM standards, (despite concrete indications of its cor relation to a successful project), is that of emotional intelligence. When discussing the factors that are inherent in a successful project, Simonelli says research indicates a reoccurring
Project Manager June July 2013
Project Manager Oct Nov 2013