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Using Project Management Skills to Become a Leader

Some people are just born with it. It’s an intangible thing. You’re either an “A” player or you’re not.
Actually false, on three counts. And to take a lesson from project management — which helps provide a scientific framework for management and decision making — there’s actually a science to becoming a and improving as a leader. In fact, if you’ve ever thought of yourself as a pretty decent project manager but not a great leader, there’s a way to apply project management principles to make yourself a better leader. For this reason, those with project management skills can make some of the best leaders.
So first, what sort of leader are we talking about? Styles of leadership have been pretty well documented, each with different outcomes. Goleman’s 6 style’s theory lists the six styles of leadership as follows:

  • Coercive, or commanding –‘do as I say’
  • Pace-setting –‘do as I do, right now’
  • Authoritative –‘come with me’
  • Affiliative –‘people come first’
  • Democratic –‘what do you think?’
  • Coaching –‘try it and see’

Each of these leadership styles also correspond with an effect on company culture. No one style is good, or bad. But they will be more or less suited depending on the needs of the project. The effects of the 6 styles of leadership may be found below:

  • Visionary — mobilizing people toward a vision.
  • Coaching — developing people for the future.
  • Affiliative — creating emotional bonds and harmony.
  • Democratic — building consensus through participation.
  • Pacesetting — expecting excellence and self-direction.
  • Commanding — demanding immediate compliance.

Now that you have some notion of what style of leadership you may excel at, you can see what work situation that’s most suited for. Not what your workplace needs? Looks like you need to work on learning another leadership style.

Next, assess how the leadership style that’s needed interacts with your current projects. That’s the scope. Then, assess your resources to practice on your new found leadership goals. That’s your figurative budget. Maybe you start by moderating the emails you make. Perhaps a few hours a week reading. Perhaps new exercises for team building can be employed. While there are multitudes of books written around improving different management styles, you don’t have to attempt any sort of radical transformation to improve management styles.

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out this run down of 50 amazing (and scientifically backed) facts about leadership.