Project managers are leaders. They lead their team, they inspire others and they play an integral role in the success or failure of the entire business, not just the project at hand. In order to be a strong, effective leader, you need to understand the qualities of good leadership. Interestingly, the same qualities that make someone an excellent CEO can also make an excellent project manager. The qualities of leaders extend across the board. What are those qualities, though?Qualities of an Effective Leader: Ingredients to Success
All successful leaders, from military generals to project managers, have similar qualities. These qualities are what make a natural leader (though some are made, rather than born). More than education and know-how, the following characteristics and competencies should be encouraged and promoted in order to develop the most effective, successful leaders in any business.
Drive: Perhaps one of the most important characteristics for any leader to have is drive. Whether you call this disaffection with the status quo, ambition or something else, good leaders are driven individuals. While one of the most important, this is also one of the more difficult qualities to quantify. Often, it's simply a sense of dissatisfaction with things as they stand and the desire to make a change. Drive affects all aspects of leading. Without it, an individual is satisfied, content and unwilling to make changes.
Willingness to Be Uncomfortable: Change is uncomfortable. Leaders are dedicated to inciting change around them, and they're fine with being uncomfortable in a myriad of ways because they realize that the long-term success of the changes being instituted outweigh the benefits of staying within your comfort zone. This can apply to almost any area of business or life itself. Good leaders effect change, regardless of the temporary discomfort that change might bring.
Inspired: Good leaders are inspired people. They derive inspiration from the world around them, from other leaders to books and even imagination. Inspiration is a vital quality for any leader to have, because without it, there is no way to inspire others to take action. In the end, that's what a leader does. He or she is the motivator, the one who leads the way forward and inspires others. Without inspiration, a leader can't do that. Look for inspiration in every aspect of your life and then use it to fuel your career.
Group Leadership: Interestingly, individual leadership might not be the best quality for a project manager. Rather, you need to focus on developing the ability to lead a group/team. While seemingly similar, these are actually different concepts and require different abilities. While you will be the team leader, you will not be the sole authority or the only source of guidance. Every team member will play a role here and you need to be willing and able to share the spotlight, at least in terms of your team. However, you'll need to have some of the qualities found in individual leaders.
Remember that you'll be accountable for the success or failure of your team as a whole, particularly in the eyes of executives and stakeholders. That means you need to be able to meld individual and team leader capabilities into a unique amalgam. You'll need:
A sense of unity
A sense of accountability
A sense of community and collaboration
A sense of commonality and working towards the same goal
A sense of responsibility
Leaders Need Education
In addition to character traits and qualities, you will also need some learned skills. The right education is vital for your success as a project manager. However, the type of education you receive will vary depending on your role. For instance, if you are a project manager, then PMP certification is very important. However, if you are entering the role of program manager (similar, but different from PM positions), you'll need to have both PMP and PgMP education in order to hone your skills and be an effective leader.