by Jessica Lunk
Great leaders are able to inspire, ignite, and accomplish. And what better group of people to look to for leadership tips than Project Managers? PMs are expert leaders who are tasked with identifying a common purpose, rallying supporters, and organizing a game plan every day.
Whether you pride yourself on your leadership skills, or involuntarily find yourself in a position to compel change, you can take a few cues from Project Managers, like:
1. Identifying Stakeholders
Project managers know that every project involves several groups who have an invested interest, from the client who wants to upgrade a product to the the end users who crave a better experience. These are the project’s stakeholders.
If you’re leading the charge to install a vending machine in the company break room, for instance, you’ll have more success if you identify each stakeholder and their unique agenda.
You’ll know that HR wants to save money on health insurance by providing healthy snacks, the CIO wants a cool perk to attract better tech talent, and the admin working the front desk wants quick and easy options for lunch. So when you need to borrow someone from IT to help with wiring, you have a great strategy for pitching your request to the CIO – and getting what you want.
2. Defining Scope
Great leaders deliver upon their promise, but it isn’t always easy. Project managers excel at pinpointing the key deliverables needed to achieve a goal – without getting distracted by project scope sprawl.
In the vending machine scenario, the vendor needs to be chosen, snack selection agreed upon, location determined, and contractor hired to rough in the electric. But do you hire a painter to touch up the walls? Upgrade the counters to stainless steel to match the shiny new vending machine?
Focusing on the main objective (providing yummy snacks to employees) will prevent turning a vending machine into a break room remodel.
3. Planning and Scheduling
PMs work with many moving parts to get their projects off the ground, and they have to stick to timelines to ensure each deliverable comes together at the right time. Setting deadlines helps leaders to stay accountable to the goal.
The type of snacks will determine the vendor selection, the vendor must be chosen before the machine can be installed, and snacks have to be ordered to stock the machine. If you want the vending machine up and running in time for the annual open house, you better have some deadlines in place.
4. Managing Expectations
Everyone has unique expectations, and Project Managers are pros at communicating the realities of a project – like budgets, timelines, and resources.
An initiative to get a vending machine in the breakroom can quickly turn into dreams of free lunch catered daily. A good leader shares information, like the type of machine being installed, so that expectations are met and exceeded – not underwhelmed.
Even simple goals can be complex to implement. Whether you’re advocating for a company-wide perk, organizing a block party, developing a new product, or leading your company through a merger, the leadership strategies PMs use everyday can get the right people behind your initiative, helping you to accomplish your goals.
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