PMI developed a talent triangle to emphasize the types of skills project managers need to continuously develop. The talent triangle includes:
1- Technical project management skills: Understanding the knowledge areas, process groups, and project management tools and techniques fall into this category.
2- Strategic and business management skills: Strategic planning , financial management, accounting, and marketing.
3- Leadership skills: Leadership and management are terms often used interchangeably, although there are differences. Generally, a leader focuses on long-term goals and big picture objectives, while inspiring people to reach those goals. A manager often deals with the day-to-day details of meeting specific goals. Some people say that, “Managers do things right, and leaders do the right things.” “Leaders determine the vision, and managers achieve the vision.” “You lead people and manage things.”
Leadership is a soft skill, and there is no one best way to be a leader. Peter Northouse, author of a popular text called Leadership: Theory and Practice, says, “In the past 60 years, as many as 65 different classification systems have been developed to define the dimensions of leadership.”
Some classification systems focus on group processes, while others focus on personality traits or behaviors. For example, the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition briefly describes the following leadership styles:
– Laissez-faire: Meaning “let go,” this hands-off approach lets teams determine their own goals and how to achieve them.
– Transactional: This management by exception approach focuses on achieving goals or compliance by offering team members appropriate rewards and punishments.
– Servant leader: People using this approach focus on relationships and community first and leadership is secondary.
– Transformational: By working with others to identify needed changes, these leaders empower others and guide changes through inspiration.
– Charismatic: These people can inspire others based on their enthusiasm and confidence.
– Interactional: This leadership style is a combination of transactional, transformational, and charismatic.
There are many different leadership styles in addition to the six listed above, and the one thing most experts agree on is that the best leaders are able to adapt their style to the needs of the situation.
1- Visionary: Needed when an organization needs a new direction, and the goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. The leader articulates where the group is going, but lets them decide how to get there by being free to innovate, experiment, and take calculated risks.
2- Coaching: One-on-one style that focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance. This approach works best with workers who show initiative and request assistance.
3- Affiliative: Emphasizes the importance of team work and creating harmony by connecting people to each other. This approach is effective when trying to increase morale, improve communication, or repair broken trust.
4- Democratic: Focuses on people’s knowledge and skills and creates a commitment to reaching shared goals. This leadership style works best when the leader needs the collective wisdom of the group to decide on the best direction to take for the organization.
5- Pacesetting: Used to set high standards for performance. The leader wants work to be done better and faster and expects everyone to put forth their best effort.
6- Commanding: Most often used, also called autocratic or military style leadership. This style is most effective in a crisis or when a turnaround is needed
“The goal for leaders should be to develop a solid understanding of the different styles of leadership and their implications, and reach the point where choosing the right one for the situation becomes second nature to them.”
The Project Manager as a Leader
Project managers often take on the role of both leader and manager. Good project managers know that people make or break projects, so they must set a good example to lead their team to success. They are aware of the greater needs of their stakeholders and organizations, so they are visionary in guiding their current projects and in suggesting future ones.
Program managers need the same skills as project managers. They often rely on their past experience as project managers, strong business knowledge, leadership capability, and communication skills to handle the responsibility of overseeing the multiple projects that make up their programs. It is most important that portfolio managers have strong financial and analytical skills and understand how projects and programs can contribute to meeting strategic goals.
Companies that excel in project, program, and portfolio management grow project leaders, emphasizing development of business and leadership skills. Instead of thinking of leaders and managers as specific people, it is better to think of people as having leadership skills, such as being visionary and inspiring, and management skills, such as being organized and effective.
Therefore, the best project, program, and portfolio managers have leadership and management characteristics; they are visionary yet focused on the bottom line. Above all else, they focus on achieving positive results!