Pulling together the science of project management with effective leadership judgment is the essence of project leadership. The dizzying array of suggestions for leadership combined with the time-sensitive project completion challenges create a need for a new model. The model we have developed offers guidance on how and when to apply leadership principles to the various stages of a project. We define project leadership as the systematic application of leadership understanding and skills at each stage of a project lifecycle.

Project Lifecycle

All projects have a lifecycle. That is, there are certain predictable events that will take place in the life of every project. The wise project leader will understand this lifecycle and plan for it. The alternative is to be surprised (often unpleasantly and quite frequently) when leading a project. Understanding the project lifecycle is part of the science of project leadership in that it can be studied, there is a definite process that can be followed, and project leaders can learn what they need to do at each stage.

We use a very simple, generic project lifecycle model. We understand that many industries have unique demands that may suggest the use of more involved lifecycle models. However, the basic stages we identify and the project leadership tasks that must be accomplished during each stage will apply to most projects in most industries. Projects in certain industries may have additional unique project leadership responsibilities. Even on very small, simple projects, however, the intent of the responsibilities identified needs to be understood and accomplished. By understanding the most typical project leadership responsibilities, a skilled project leader can scale up or down the complexity depending on the project he or she is leading.

The simple lifecycle model we are using has four stages: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Each stage contains one or more stage-ending deliverables that must be approved or accepted before proceeding to the next stage (as shown in Figure 1-6).

Figure 1-7 shows the level of effort that is needed by each type of leader at each stage of the project lifecycle. The horizontal axis shows how the stages follow each other over time. The length of the stages may vary widely depending on the project. The vertical axis shows the amount of effort (measured either in person hours of work or in dollars expended per time period). Note that the effort expended by senior project leaders is highest during project initiation, diminishes during planning and execution, and finally rises a bit during project closing. Junior leaders may be selected during the initiation stage or even the planning stage and may start their involvement with heavy effort right away. Junior leaders' effort, while highest during planning and execution, remains high throughout the project. Front-line workers' effort starts quite low, builds during planning, is by far highest during implementation, and decreases sharply during closure.

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Figure 1-7: Project Leaders' Level of Effort over the Project Lifecycle

When considering the enthusiasm and team building necessary for a project team, one needs to remember that project participants can have very different patterns of participation. Senior leaders often go through the various team-building emotions a stage before junior leaders, who in turn go through the team-building emotions a stage before the front-line workers. A wise project leader will understand situational leadership and team development and then apply those lessons with great care depending on what individuals need.

Types of Project Leadership Decisions

The stage-specific project leadership tasks are shown in Table 1-1. Note that the three types of issues project leaders face relate to a variety of task, personnel, and commitment situations. All leaders must face many of these same issues. The issues are more complex in projects than in ongoing operations because projects have exceptional demands, particularly as a result of their temporary nature and unique outputs. Understanding the decisions that project leaders must make is also part of the science of project leadership because it is prescriptive—that is, these decisions must be made. The decisions identified in Table 1-1 will form the basis of the following chapters.

Table 1-1: Stage-Specific Project Leadership Tasks

of Project
Leadership Task

Project Leadership Stage





Project Priorities

Align project with parent organization

Understand and respond to the customer

Authorize work

Audit project

Project Details

Perform risk analysis

Oversee detailed plan development

Monitor progress and control changes

Terminate project

Project Integration

Justify and select project

Integrate project plans

Coordinate work across multiple projects

Capture and share lessons learned

Human Resources

Select key project participants

Select remainder of project participants

Supervise work performance

Reassign workers

Human Relations

Determine team operating methods

Develop communications plan

Lead teams

Reward and recognize participants

Project Promotion

Develop top management support

Motivate all participants

Maintain morale

Celebrate project completion

Project Commitment

Commit to project

Secure key stakeholder approval

Secure customer acceptance

Oversee administrative closure

Project leaders have three types of task responsibilities. First, leaders must determine priorities and continue to insist that those priorities are adhered to. Second, project leaders continually need to be aware of project details and make decisions related to changing conditions. Finally, project leaders need to see and communicate how this project integrates into the grander scheme of things—both within the parent organization and in the customer's organization.

Personnel responsibilities are both procedural and behavioral. Procedural (human resource) issues include selecting and hiring project participants, supervising their work, and ensuring that they have future employment after the project is complete. Behavioral (human relations) responsibilities include helping the project core team develop operating and communication methods, leading teams, and ensuring that worthy participants are recognized for their efforts.

Successful projects require many different stakeholders to make and keep commitments. A project leader has the responsibility of advocating the project in such a way that each concerned individual will want to make and keep the necessary project commitments. If this "unofficial advocacy" is done well, the official signing of documents should be easy.

Project Leadership
Project Leadership
ISBN: 0071388672
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 106

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