Success in Project Management (and the rest...) depends to a large extend to the Leadership of the PM and the sponsors. Such Leadership skills, or non-cognitive skills are typically recognized as the weak link of the chain. While whole libraries are available (and are probably re-published each year) on this topic, a few major elements are repeatably reccuring on this topic, as described below.
Attibutes of Leadership
- - Energy and Drive: they are working hard, and get things done
- - they are willing to lead, and are perceived to constantly seek to inspire and influence with integrity.
- - they are assertive and have self-confidence
- - they have sound professional competencies, which enables them to take decisions and understand the consequences
- - they demonstrate intelligence
- - they are open, communicate well, and extravertite
While the jury will stay out for ever on what exactly makes a great leader, the above is certainly a good set of references.
Watch this video (again from HBR) or this article for a slightly different but compatible view, explaining that great leaders behave ethically, empower others, provide clear guidance, and communicate effectively.
That there is no clear consensus about what is a leader, is probably due to the fact that there are many different types of leaders, each with a pattern of strength that make her/him more suitable to some missions or situations. In any case, leadership is multidimentional, and can be trained and developed. But this is a life long journey. Go there for a very good overview by Allan on the essential traits of a good leader, the ones that should be developed. And more below as well...
Leadership: Trained or born?
he answer is: it depends. Professionals in this area tend to agree on the following:
- 15 % of people may not need any training: they are natural leaders.
- 15% will not benefit from any training, because they are not willing to acquire the necessary behavior, or will not be able to.
- but for 70% of the population, and especially for those who need to lead in non-critical situations, leadership can be learned, through various tools starting from coaching program, 360degree assessments, and situational role-plays. In any case, this is certainly not the result of a one-week crash-course.
What type of Leaders?
This article of the HBR presents various types of leaders. Each have their own attributes, and this is what makes them so-called situational leaders, because they will rather demonstrate their best in specific situations. The archetypes of the leaders:
- The strategist: leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
- The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity. These executives love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organizational ”blueprints.”
- The transactor: leadership as deal making. These executives are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.
- The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. These executives dream of creating something and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
- The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation. These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
- The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
- The coach: leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
- The communicator: leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.