Recently, I’ve written two blogs on group and team development, without specifically mentioning ‘Leadership’, specifically Project Leadership. Here are the links in case you missed the blogs:

So, this week’s blog will talk just about leadership, leadership styles, and the relationship with Groups and Teams.

The Project Manager is The Project Leader

One of the first things I like to make clear, is that a Project Manager is also seen as a (Project) Leader.

There are many blogs and debates about the differing roles of a ‘manager’ and ‘leader’. Basically:

  • Manager: A Manager can often be task oriented, and considers peoples skills and abilities. Managers calculate, estimate, and follow the set down processes. Managers have a degree of authority and often tell others what is required. A manager may therefore be under pressure to ‘know it all’. Whilst,
  • Leader: Leaders are more people oriented, and consider attitudes and behaviours (rather than skills or outputs). Leaders will value others, and are motivational. A leader will ask the team for information and opinions.

The terminology change from Project Manager to Project Leader may be required to help people recognise that they need to operate differently as a leader.

The Task, The Team, and The Individual

One common model on leadership, is to examine the balance between a happy team, achieving the task, and keeping team members happy.

Task Individual Team

Task Individual Team

  • Task: The project has to be completed, or the leader will not be helping achieve the company strategy
  • Individual: The individual in the project will have personal aims such as training, development, or working times/locations, and these need to be considered
  • Team: The team have to progress through the stages of team development (From Group to Team) to really perform well

It is the Project Leaders task to balance these three (often competing or even conflicting) aims, and try to meet them all to keep everybody happy.

Project Leadership

Leadership, in the Project Management situation, is getting the project successfully completed. This is not at the full expense of ignoring the Team or Individual, however there is some additional emphasis on completing the task.

Project Leadership

Project Leadership

For a long project, the project manager will need to consider the developmental needs of individuals, and the need to create a performing team. Shorter projects (perhaps 3 months or less), or those performed in a rush due to some crisis, may focus solely on the task.

Different Styles of Leadership

If we believe that a ‘Team’ develops from a ‘Group’, and that they are very different things, then the leader must behave differently as the group matures into a team.

  • Forming: In this stage the leader needs to ‘Tell’ the group what is required, what the project objectives are, and what to do. The group will look to the leader for instruction. Establishing clear objectives is a priority.
  • Storming: In this case, the ground rules need to be established, and involving the team in making decisions is necessary. The leader must stop ‘Telling’, and start to ‘Involve’ people in the tasks.
  • Norming: The leader will need to start asking the team to participate in decisions and make their own decisions. The leader is clearly present, but starting to ‘Step away’ from the day-to-day running of the team.
  • Performing: The leader may be looking at the next project, as the team is truly performing, and somebody else is acting as a leader. This may start as ‘Delegating’, but it is not an ‘Abdication’ of responsibilities.

Some leaders remain as managers and ‘Tell’ people what is required at all stages in the process. All that is happening here, is that we are teaching people to wait until they are ‘Told’ to do something.

Blake and Mouton

This is an alternative management model, which looks at how a manager concentrates their efforts.

There are two axes, concern for getting the task done, and concern for the individual.

Blake and Mouton

Blake and Mouton

The four corners of this grid illustrate 4 different leadership ‘Styles’. In reality though, we need to change leadership style to suit the needs of the team, at different stages of the project and/or group development.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt

This model examines the amount of authority displayed by the leader. Some leaders are very successful as autocratic authoritarian leaders, always determining the course of action and ‘Telling’

Tannenbaum and Schmidt

Tannenbaum and Schmidt

Other leaders are very participative in their manner, and ask the team to be involved. Progression from left to right in this model, may encourage team development thought the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing stages.

The Importance of Project Leadership

This blog has looked at the importance of leadership in project management. If the leader really wants to create a performing team, then a constantly changing leadership style is required. It is the role of the project leader to accelerate the process of team development from a group, through to a performing team.

The Leadership Style should suit the needs of the project team, rather remain a fixed style displayed by the project manager/leader.


Posted On: 19th June 2018

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