Few businesses would give the green light to a project they did not believe in, yet it also is not uncommon to see these projects fail. Despite being given to a group of highly qualified individuals, sometimes projects just cannot be completed as planned.
This can happen for any number of reasons – the scope of the project gradually increases until it is no longer accomplishable under the original guidelines, promised resources are never given, team members do not work together well or do not carry their own weight or perhaps the specifications of the project keep changing drastically.
At the end of the day, however, one of the biggest reasons these projects fail is simply because the leaders are not strong enough to navigate all of the different channels they face. Perhaps they lack the influence to motivate team members to do their jobs, to resolve conflict that creates blockades, to negotiate with executive management to get the necessary resources or to push back and prevent project bloat from getting out of hand.
So, what do strong project leaders look like? Here are a few traits they may posses:
1. They know how to lead and influence
As CIO Magazine noted, one of the most important attributes of an effective project leader is the ability to interact with and influence stakeholders, ranging from executive management to the people working on the actual initiative.
"Since many project team members don't report directly to the project manager, the project manager has to find ways to motivate workers over whom they have no direct influence and who can make or break a project," explained CIO contributor Meredith Levinson. "Project managers also need to be able to inspire the confidence of stakeholders and sponsors in the event the budget or timeline needs to be renegotiated or additional resources are needed to complete the project."
2. They communicate effectively
In a digital world, there are a number of ways project leaders can talk to others. Email, social media, company intranets, direct phone calls, video call meetings – the possibilities are endless. Successful project managers need to communicate in the most effective way possible. That means understanding the best way to get the message across and choosing that avenue.
For example, it is easy to send an email message, but email is not always the best way of saying something firmly. People may hide behind email because they want to avoid conflict, but if that discussion needs to be had, it may best to get directly on the phone or in a room with others.
3. They are flexible
Project leaders need to understand that they will constantly encounter challenges and obstacles along the way until the completion of the initiative. What separates an effective project leader from one that is not successful is the ability to adapt and adjust to unforeseen shifts in the campaign's parameters.
Project leaders are necessary in any profession, and anyone assuming this position needs to work on these skills if they want to be successful.