Top Leadership Skills of Project Manager

Top Leadership Skills of Project Manager: In this module, you will learn about overview of Leadership skills of Project Manager, Politics, Power, Various forms of power, comparison of Leadership and Management, Leadership Styles and many more.

     Top Leadership Skills of Project Manager

Leadership skills include capability to guide, motivate, and direct team members. These abilities may include demonstrating essential capacities, for example, negotiation, resilience, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills.
Leadership skills of project manager
A large part of the project manager’s role includes dealing with people and project manager should have ability to study people’s behaviors and motivations. Also, the project manager should strive to be a good leader, because leadership is most important consideration part for completing projects in organizations successfully.

What leadership skills do project managers need?

While working with all project stakeholders, including the project team, the steering team, and the project sponsors, project manager applies leadership skills and qualities. Effective leaders develop new leadership skills to supplement those that made them successful as managers. While a few people normally have leadership qualities, there are some leadership skills that need to be obtained over time. 

Research shows that the qualities and skills of a leader incorporates Being a visionary (e.g., help describing products, goals, and objectives of the project), optimistic and positive, collaborative, managing relationships and conflict by establishing trust, satisfying concerns, balancing competing and opposing goals, applying persuasion, negotiation, compromise, and conflict resolution skills, developing personal and professional networks, taking a long-term view that relationships are just as important as the project; and Continuously developing and applying political keenness.

Research shows that top project managers spend about 90% of their time on a project in communicating with project team members. Project managers should involve in managing expectations, accepting feedback graciously, giving feedback constructively; and asking and listening. The complete success of any project depends upon the leadership skills of a Project Manager

Politics and Power

Leadership and management are ultimately about being able to get things done. The skills and qualities noted assistance the project manager to accomplish the project objectives and goals. Politics includes influence, negotiation, autonomy and power.

Politics and its associated elements are not “good” or “bad,” “positive” or “negative” alone. The better the project manager understands how the organization works, the more probable the person will be successful. Successful project managers are those who are sincere about both strong management skills and effective leadership skills. 

The project manager gathers data about the project and organizational landscapes. The data then needs to be reviewed, the stakeholders involved, the organization, and the environment. This review yields the information and knowledge necessary for the project manager to plan and implement the most appropriate preventive and corrective action. The project manager’s action is a consequence of choosing the right kind of power to influence and negotiate with others.

Exercise of power also carries with it the responsibility of being sensitive to and respectful of other people. The project manager’s action results in the right people performing the activities necessary to fulfill the goals and objectives of the project.

Power can originate with attributes showed by the individual or the organization. Power is often supported by another people’s perception of the leader. It is more important for project managers to be aware of their relationships with other people.

There are various types of power at the disposal of project managers. Power and its use can be complex given its nature and the various factors at play in a project.

Various forms of power:
  • Positional power also called as formal, authoritative, legitimate. For example - Formal position granted in the organization or team
  • Informational Power. For example - Control of gathering or distribution
  •  Referent Power. For example - Respect or admiration others hold for the individual, credibility gained
  •   Situational Power. For example - Gained due to unique situation such as a specific crisis
  •   Personal or charismatic Power . For example - Charm, attraction
  •   Relational Power. For example - Participates in networking, connections, and alliances
  •   Expert Power. For example - Skill, information possessed; experience, training, education, certification
  •   Reward-oriented Power. For example - Ability to give praise, monetary or other desired items
  •   Punitive or coercive Power. For example - Ability to invoke discipline or negative consequences
  •    Ingratiating Power. For example - Application of flattery or other common ground to win favor or cooperation
  •  Pressure-based Power. For example - Limit freedom of choice or movement for the purpose of gaining compliance to desired action
  • Guilt-based Power. For example - Imposition of obligation or sense of duty
  • Persuasive Power. For example - Ability to provide arguments that move people to a desired course of action
  •  Avoiding Power. For example - Refusing to participate

Top project managers work to achieve the power and authority they need within the boundaries of organizational policies and procedures.

Leadership Styles

Project managers may lead their teams in numerous ways. The style a project manager chooses might be a personal preference, or the consequence of the combination of multiple factors associated with the project and the style a project manager uses may change over time based on the various factors or elements in play.

Main factors to consider include Leader characteristics (attitudes, moods, needs, values, ethics), Team member characteristics (attitudes, moods, needs, values, ethics), Organizational characteristics (purpose, structure, work performed types) and Environmental characteristics (social situation, economic state, and political elements).

Research depicts various leadership styles that a project manager can adopt. Few most common examples of these styles include:

Leadership Styles
  • Laissez-faire -  For example - Allowing the team to make their own decisions and establish their own goals, also referred to as taking a hands-off style
  •  Transactional  For example - Focus on goals, feedback, and accomplishment to determine rewards; management by exception
  •  Servant leader  For example - Demonstrates commitment to serve and put other people first; focuses on other people’s growth, learning, development, autonomy, and well-being; concentrates on relationships, community and collaboration; leadership is secondary and emerges after service
  • Transformational  For example - Empowering followers through idealized attributes and behaviours, inspirational motivation, encouragement for innovation and creativity, and individual consideration)
  • Charismatic  For example - Able to inspire; is high-energy, enthusiastic, self-confident; holds strong convictions
  •  Interactional  For example - A combination of transactional, transformational, and charismatic

Leadership Vs Management

The words leadership and management are frequently used conversely. However, they are not synonymous. The primary distinction between the two is that leaders have people that follow them, while managers have people who simply work for them.

 The word “Management” is more firmly connected with directing someone else to get from one point to another using a known set of expected behaviours. Conversely, leadership includes working with others through discussion or debate to direct them starting with one point then onto the next. 

Leadership skills are not equivalent to management skills. Strong management skills can be gained through experience and practice in an organization. Whereas, Leadership skills can be learned, and leadership qualities can be developed. 

The strategy that a project manager decides to utilize reveals a distinct difference in behaviour, self-perception, and project role. In order to be a successful, project managers need to employ both leadership and management skills.

The way in which management and leadership are employed often shows up in the project manager’s leadership style.

Ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations.
Ability to direct and control a group of one or more people or entities for the purpose of coordinating & harmonizing that group towards accomplishing a goal.
Goal Setting
Creates future
See forecast
Improves Present
See trees
Creating vision & Strategy
Keeping eye on the horizon
Planning and budgeting
Keeping eye on the bottom-line
Does right things
Creates change
Serves subordinates
Does things right
Manages change
Serves super-ordinates
Employee Relations
Trusts & develops
Directs & Coordinates
Uses influence
Uses conflict
Uses Authority
Avoids conflict
Thinking Process
Focuses on people
Looks outward
Focuses on things
Looks inward


Most hopefully, you would like this information, and it is more beneficial for you if you are in preparation of PMP exam. 

The information provided above about Leadership skills of project manager is crucial for every Project manager in an organization. Project managers with leadership skills along with effective technical skills, are incredible resource for any business.

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Thank you for taking time reading this article. 

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