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Project Management Skills = Better Leadership?

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By J. Thompson
Online Career Tips Contributor

Whether you’re in IT development, enterprise systems implementation, or you’re outside the field—the fundamentals of project management can help you get organized and lead complex initiatives in just about any profession. Heck, PM skills are used in feature film production. In any organization sound project management skills are a valued commodity, especially if you’re skilled at documenting progress, identifying and reallocating resources, and increasing efficiencies. The best part is that you don’t have to dive too deep into it or get certified. So why not use some best practices to make your day-to-day work more efficient, transparent, and appreciated?

Typically a project managers role is to assess and bring together various team skills as well as systems and functions, then provide a vision with deadlines and measurable goals. They also manage and direct inform flow and bring their particular business sectors forward. Sounds a lot like being a leader, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder that many influential leaders either worked as project managers at one time or they rely heavily on project managers to help them maintain their work streams.

Whether it’s Agile, Six Sigma or an internal PM process, the fundamentals of quality PM are universal:

Setting and Communicating Goals

Team leaders and individual contributors alike must be able to analyze the current state and the future state, and offer a workable strategy to get to reach the objectives. So, do ample research and then write down your objectives in quantifiable terms. Share them with your team or colleagues and get their feedback. Avoid working in a vacuum and seek input. As you socialize the goals it will give others an opportunity to have buy-in. Also, they’ll have a better understanding as to how they can help you be successful.

Monitor and Adapt

After doing the research and establishing goals, continually monitor progress by hosting quick update meetings regularly (weekly or biweekly). Once the project is underway, the less marathon meetings the better support you’ll get. The purpose is to create a two-way flow of communication that keeps others on task while allowing you to provide them with help if certain resources aren’t adequate. It’s human nature for others to provide that are painted in a positive light. So, learn to ask probing questions that don’t put others on the defensive but that request hard data. Be a good listener and you’ll pick up on clues. Just remember, the only thing worse than a project falling behind is not knowing that the project is behind.

Celebrate Successes

Success isn’t just the final outcome; it’s the small wins that everybody provides on a daily basis. Good project managers, and leaders, are creative in finding ways to acknowledge strong contributions when they happen. Not after the fact. Also, your job is to invite collaboration and not to dictate. Part of being creative is creating an atmosphere where teams are confident they’re making contributions. And when you finally do complete the overall project, throw a party and part more emphasis in acknowledging others above yourself.  You never know when you’ll need them to help you out again.

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