Project managers, consequently, must be leaders because they are constantly looking and moving into the unknown and must influence people to follow them. The very nature of projects demands leadership.
Project managers as leaders, however, must learn to shift their view of what is required on a project. They need to take a more balanced perspective by looking at a project, for example, as something that requires more than planning, organizing, and controlling. They also need to view it as a people- intensive endeavor whereby all human energies are focused on achieving a common vision. This shift requires looking at projects more critically and less as something of an opportunity to apply a tool or technique.
They must also learn to visualize the direction for the project. They must do so, however, in a way that is meaningful to others as well as to themselves . This visualization cannot happen in a vacuum ; it requires involvement by the very people who must make it a reality.
Project managers also integrate. They must put all they know into a cohesive whole. This requires them to look at all the key elements, from objects to relationships, and determine their degree of importance to achieve the vision for the project. They must also be able to explain it to others so everyone can see the big picture.
They must understand the context of their projects. They need to understand the entire circumstances surrounding their projects, to include major issues and stakeholders, to lead effectively. A solid contextual understanding lays the groundwork for effective decision making throughout the project life cycle.
Project managers must decide when the circumstances warrant it. They must be willing to make decisions at key moments even when available information is sparse and contradictory. Failure to make a decision at a key moment can bring the most ambitious project to a halt. The capacity and willingness of a project manager to make a decision at a key moment does not excuse being arbitrary and capricious. Rather, it means weighing circumstances and consulting with others to make an effective decision, e.g., one achieving expected results.
They must motivate, themselves and others. Project managers need to constantly remind themselves that in order to complete a project, they must do so through other people. However, they often lack formal, functional power and that limits their ability to command obedience or compliance. They must look for ways, therefore, to blend individual and project needs so that a Win-Win result becomes the norm.
Project managers must team, that is, encourage people to work together while pursuing a common goal. They should encourage other people to do so in a way that complements each others' strengths and compensates for each others' weaknesses. The idea is that project managers must create a team that is akin to an alloy, whereby the individual elements are not as strong than when combined.
They must communicate with all stakeholders in a way that satisfies needs. Their communication must be ongoing with the contents refreshed continuously. They need to provide more information and less data, the former being meaningful to the recipient. The best way to determine that is to listen more and talk less.
They must respond. They must constantly have their pulse on the circumstances surrounding their projects to avoid reacting . The idea is that they must take the initiative or seize the momentum for their projects so that everyone feels, or at least appears to feel, in control. Key ingredients to make that happen are for project managers and others to maintain focus on the vision, have the ability to manage change, and encourage involvement and initiative by everyone.
Project managers must trust themselves and others. They should expect everyone, including themselves, to follow the "high road" in dealings, positive and negative. Failure to demonstrate trust in others generates distrust , in turn , from others. It also means that project managers should act ethically and with integrity and expect the same of others. The bottom line is that the credibility of everyone on a project is at stake and, once lost, trust is gone.