A leader is someone who has the willpower and competence to influence decisions of people and to direct them towards achieving a certain goal. Project leadership is the ability of a leader to ensure that things are done and accomplished according to the plans through others. A manager is a person who ensures that things are accomplished by others. A manager cannot undertake project leadership without the skills of a leader. Management and leadership are therefore an essential competencies for a person to be regarded as a competent leader. In this topic of project leadership, we are going to analyze components that revolve around accomplishment of a project.
Understanding the Context of Organization
Communication is an essential aspect of any activity; in this case, communication plays a major role in project leadership. In order o understand the context of the organization, communication will be used to understand the aspects that complete an organization. Project leadership requires that the context of organization be understood by everyone before executing the plans for a project. The vision, mission and core values of an organization should be well understood so as to blend the objectives of the project with them and hence work towards the visions and mission.
Every organization has its culture and the role the culture plays in achieving the goals. Communicating the role of culture will enable the project to be implemented, and this will ensure that employees and stakeholders fully understand the culture. The structure of the organization also plays a role in project leadership. This is where the hierarchy of management is stipulated and communicated well to allow staff to know their position and the department to which they belong (Cleland & Ireland, 2006).
As earlier elaborated, leadership is the activity of influencing people or a team to work together in certain direction towards achieving the set goals. Being a leader requires that one has the traits it takes to accomplish a project and to experience success. These leadership traits include; dominance, social boldness, emotional stability, enthusiasm, self-assurance, tough-mindedness and compulsiveness. These traits are essential because they will help a leader to accomplish their project by incorporating the traits on the influence activity.
A leader should be able to find the motivation that compels him to ensure that the implementation process is accomplished, and results are positive. The motivation aspect is brought about by the fact that if a leader is not motivated in performing his duties, the team will also lag in performing the designated duties. A leader should, therefore, find motivation by being a good leader and a manager at the same time. One of the components of finding motivation is through improvement of leadership practices such that a leader should always strive to develop new ways and tactics for leading (Liu & Parvar, 2007). This aspect will motivate the team members because they will also learn new tactics of achieving goals. When it comes to project leadership, new tactics should be critically analyzed before application to prevent confusion. A leader who is well equipped with ethics will always be the best when it comes to accomplishing the project. All employees require leaders who can communicate without discrimination and does not exercise biasness when delegating duties. This aspect of leadership together with equity will influence the team to perform well.
High Performing Team
According to Haldar 2010, project leadership is a wide aspect and the stronger the team, the more successful the project will become. High performing team forms an integral part of implementing the project. Therefore, we are going to analyze the steps in nurturing a high performing team.
Nurturing effectiveness in a team; this will require a leader who can be a role model to the team members. All team members can be effective but it depends on how they are nurtured. Team members need to be trained and given the opportunity to participate in discussions that are aimed towards accomplishing a project.
Cycles of developing the team; in order to attain the level of development, the team members need to have gone through a cycle or development stages. In this case, the leader should develop programs regarding developing the team members. These programs should be well understood so as to influence the performance of the team members. The development programs involve decision-making, planning, organizing and implementing projects. Team members will be exposed to various stages that will require their skills to accomplish these tasks.
Recruiting the high performing team; since the team members will be important in implementing the project, a leader should be able to identify the most performing team for the purpose of achieving the best results. After nurturing, training and developing the team, the best will be recruited, and the project will be presented to them for the purpose of implementing.
Managing the Stakeholders
Formulating a project in any organization considers the presence of stakeholders. Stakeholders are the pillars of the organization and therefore they should be considered in any project. A leader should be able to recognize the efforts of stakeholders and ensure a two-way communication so as to achieve the desired goals. The success of a project is contributed by the relationship between the stakeholders and the organization. A leader should, therefore, identify strong stakeholders who will help in making concrete decisions that regard implementing the project. In this case, a leader should apply his skills and competence in communicating the vision and mission of the project. Taking, for example, a project on strategies to improve the competitive company strategy, the leaders should present the key priorities and the plan to arrive at the goals. Stakeholder, on the other hand, will help in providing support to the implementation process (Kerzner, 2013).
Managing stakeholders will create a positive relationship between the sponsors and the organization as well. It is the role of leader and the implementation team to engage stakeholders and sponsors in the project plan because they will contribute towards the success of the project. Also, the leaders will be able to identify challenges that involve managing stakeholders. These challenges may be due to insufficient information and lack of ethical considerations among stakeholders. Not all stakeholders agree on a subject, and therefore, it is up to the leader to identify ways through which he can bring all the stakeholders to an agreement (McManus, 2006).
Managing the Project Portfolio
Managing a portfolio is the process of ensuring that all aspects that revolve around project planning up to implementation are well observed. It is a complex step in project leadership because it requires competency and experience. The most critical aspect of managing portfolio is the financial aspect whereby the leader should be able to account for all the finances involved from the inception of the project up to its completion (Rajegopal, 2014). Project portfolio management is categorized as follows;
Developing the project portfolio; this is the process of developing stages on which the project will undergo so as to from a smooth strategy that is transparent to all the participants of project implementation. The leader will present the stages in a simple method to encourage equity. These stages involve the project inception whereby the project is planned and presented in a chart. The second stage is the analysis to determine the factors that will hinder project completion; also the financial analysis will be done at this stage to determine the amount of money to be invested. The last stage is the scoring whereby the project is implemented and rated on whether the vision and mission are achieved, in this case, the implemented project will be measured by the returns or the level of which the organization will be ranked regarding performance.
Implementation of a project will deter changes in organization and the appropriate staff to champion change management is the leader. This is because o f the influential traits that will enable other staff to accept these changes. Change management refers to the process of handling changes as a result of incorporation of new terms and conditions of achieving goals. For the purpose of achieving success in project leadership, there should be changes that will impact on how team members will perform their duties. Some routine duties will be changed so as to give space for the new implementation (Kendrick, T. 2011).
Change management should be done in a progressive manner to avoid confusion among the team; a leader should understand that change is a difficult process that requires tolerance for it to be successful. Not everyone appreciates change; some may view it positively and other negatively depending on their interests and motivation. If a staff is motivated to be part of implanting a project, he or she will be positive to the change.
In the process of handling change management, a leader should not forget to manage the project. Having in mind that project is the cause of change, integrating the two will enable the leader to develop strategies for ensuring that both are achieved successfully. Influencing the team to understand that the project is the change agent will not only motivate them but will encourage teamwork. It is during this stage of project leadership that teamwork is encouraged. Laufer, A. 2012 asserts that team work should not only be the staff, but it should be participation by all the members involved in the project planning. These are the staff, the board of members, stakeholders, and sponsors. A competent leader is the one who can achieve goals through influencing people to follow certain direction. Before integrating change management and project management, the leader is required to design a strategy which will guide all the project implementation participants. Therefore, designing and communicating these strategies will be of help. To achieve this, the leader must carry out research and evaluate various ways of ensuring positive influence, for example, the leader can focus on the experience in handling other projects so as to get a clue on ideas to use in the present project.
According to Bull, 2010, Conflicts at the workplace have always been a threat to the team members and the leader because when there are conflicts, it is an indication that the workflow will slow down. When there is a slow down at work, the result will be a failure to achieve objectives. A leader who can handle conflicts should ensure that there are no chances of conflicts by applying these three steps;
Quick response to day to day conflicts; people have different opinions on doing things and one can prefer his opinion without taking into consideration someone else opinion. When this occurs, there will be conflict. A project will not be accomplished when there is day to day conflicts. A leader should respond to these conflicts to avoid further destruction and causing the flow of project to stop. This can be achieved through recognizing those people who are hard to influence because they prefer doing things their way. Also, there are behaviors that catalyze conflicts among the team members, and a leader should be able to instill behaviors that will result in good performance.
Identification of risks that could trigger conflicts; a conflict behavior is easy to identify especially when analyzing behavioral characteristics of an employee. Identifying such aspects will lead to minimizing risk because a potential risk character will trigger conflicts. A good leader will, therefore, try to understand the both sides of conflicting parties than to lean on one side hence causing more conflict. A clear decision should be made when reaching a favorable agreement between conflicting parties.
Behavioral changes; during the project implementation, there could be behavioral changes that are not of positive impact to the goal-oriented team. It is important to always understand these behaviors so as to prevent any conflict that could be triggered by the behavior. In this case, the leader should display respect by being a good listener. Conflict can be transformed into a positive energy that can be of use to perform other important duties. Therefore, the realization of a conflict in its early stages is the key to transforming and engaging the conflicting parties to a more productive team (Moorhead & Griffin, 2012).
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