Leadership techniques: mixing different styles for the best results

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Experts in project management, such as those at Parallel Project Training believe that there is no reason to choose just one leadership technique to follow. They all have their merits, and different styles will help you to achieve the best results depending on the project that you are working on.

Managing a project team can often be frustrating. Many office environments, after all, are not really designed with creativity and inspiration in mind. It is, therefore, really important to ensure that your chosen leadership style does not get in the way of the ability of your team to do their job.

In the same way as the most successful projects are subject to scrutiny and review, so too are the best project managers placed in a position where they continually scrutinise and review their own performance. You should never be afraid of considering a different way of approaching your work if there is a chance that this new way of doing things could offer greater benefits to your project.

There are four very distinct types of leadership techniques that you will learn about during project management qualifications such as APM PPQ:

  •        Support the team
  •        Manage the team
  •        Direct the team
  •        Coach the team

Set the pace

A pace-setting manager is someone who sets out what a team will need to accomplish and how they should do this. This type of leadership is perhaps best suited to a technical team with a project manager who has the right skills to work as a member of the team. They need to remember that they are the project manager but that they can also help by advocating for the team and also removing any obstacles along the way.

Direct the team

There are some team members and teams who prefer more authoritarian leadership techniques with a project manager who tells that what needs to be done and when to do it. If this leadership technique is not used with some flexibility and the project manager does not listen to team requests, then it can quickly become an issue. Careful evaluation should be considered to ensure that a project manager in this scenario does not become rather draconian.

The facilitator

With many project teams working at their best in an environment that is highly democratic, this type of leadership relies on team members acting together and keeping everyone in the loop. During any meetings that take place, the project manager will act as a “chairperson” and will introduce agenda items, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to make contributions. They will also create harmony within the team and foster great relationships that will allow the team to become a cohesive unit. They will also offer positive feedback on a frequent basis that will help motivate the team to perform better.

Be the coach

Someone who is a coaching manager will be quick to provide positive feedback and will also run team meetings that are democratic and will allow team members to solve their own problems. They will also bring out the best in their team, spot potential that is hidden and even challenge team members to unlock that potential. They will provide project goals that are clear and help the team work towards the relevant targets that will help them complete the project.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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