Improving a Project Manager leadership abilities

Improving a Project Manager leadership abilities

Good Project Managers know that their leadership styles directly impact the tenor and tone of a team and consequently team performance. It also impacts their relationships with stakeholders. Good Project Managers listen often and deeply to what others have to say about how attributes of their leadership style impacts others. Good Project Managers respond to this information and take action to adjust and attune their style to become even better leaders.
Most of us know all too well that team members come with many different styles, traits, histories, skills, and preferences to work with others. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to appreciate these and adapt to the needs of each team member to ensure that they contribute all that they are capable of contributing. When Project Managers know how their own styles interact with others’ styles, they are in a better position to alter the dynamic and create a more productive relationship.

While listening is good, often times, because of power imbalances, Project Managers may not get full and honest feedback about how aspects of their style impacts others. Doing a 360 assessment gives Project Managers anonymous and valuable feedback that they can use to understand how their leadership style supports or detracts from team performance.
A 360 assessment consists of gathering information from “raters” in a confidential manner from those who have insight into the Project Manager. Raters provide feedback based on their experiences of working with or observing the Project Manager in action.

Raters typically come from these categories:

  • The Project Manager
  • Subordinates
  • Manager/Supervisor
  • Peers
  • Other Stakeholders (e.g. customers, spouses, friends, etc.)

The 360 instrument is grounded in principles of emotional intelligence (originated by Daniel Goleman). EQ is defined as “The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions….” Research has shown that as a Project Manager’s EQ rises, team performance rises. Hence improving one’s EQ has direct impact on outcomes for which the leader is responsible.
The 360 assessment instrument has been extensively tested and validated against the dimensions of EQ. It brings insight and understanding to leaders so that they can adjust and adapt to become more effective.

The assessment gives information to the Project Manager on how they “tilt” towards a “default” style. Often leaders prefer to use a particular set of qualities and strengths that limit the leader’s repertoire of available attributes to lead teams. The assessment shows where the Project Manager can focus attention to move towards a more balances style of leading others. With attention on these areas to bring about balance, the leader increases the range of ways to interact with and lead others. The Project Manager’s EQ goes up and consequently, team performance improves. With improved team performance, Project Managers create more options for themselves to lead other more challenging projects.

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