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Ten Tips for Project Management Team Leadership Success

When project management team leaders begin a new project, they should bear in mind the following ten tips for success:

1. Ensure that the project staff has the four characteristics of a team

A project management team leader should look to transform a group of employees who have been designated to work on a project into a true team. The project leader should ask themselves what they can do to ensure that the project team has complementary skills, is pursuing a common goal, has a shared approach and performance metrics, and feels mutual accountability.

2. During the forming stage, engage in team building and be directive

During the Forming team development stage, the project management team leader should engage in the team-building process with the group. The Forming phase is when people get to know one another. Team-building activities at this stage can be productive. A team leader should be more directive because group members are often unsure of what tasks need to be accomplished, and they also may not be comfortable with each other yet.

3. During the storming stage, continue to be directive and focus on coaching team members

In the Storming phase of team development, the project management team leader must focus on coaching the group to help them move more smoothly through this time of conflict. One-on-one meetings can be helpful. A significant amount of team energy is devoted to conflict during the Storming stage. As with the Forming phase, the project team leader should continue to use a directive leadership style to maintain project momentum.

4. Transition to a participative or engaging role during Norming, Performing, and Adjourning

Once a team reaches the Norming stage, the project management team leader should transition to a more participative and/or engaging leadership style. Team members are becoming interdependent and can handle decision making with less explicit direction.

5. Consider the implications of the project life cycle for the team

The project life cycle is a core concept for a project manager. From a team leadership perspective, the project life cycle has several implications. The project team leader must know which staff are needed at each point in the life cycle. Typically staffing levels peak in the middle stages of a project but tail off at the beginning and end. In addition, the team development stages can be mapped to the project life cycle.

6. In functional organizations, project managers will not drive power through authority

In a company that has a functional organizational structure, project management team leaders will not obtain power through authority. They must seek sources of power elsewhere.

7.In project-oriented organizations, project managers possess high levels of authority

Project management team leaders in project-oriented organizations will have high levels of authority over the team. This is a useful source of power, but it is not enough alone to make a team leader effective.

8. Align your leadership style with the company culture

Recognizing when a team has concluded a team development phase can be very difficult. Project management team leaders should consider working with the group to create “exit criteria” that define when the team has finished a phase. This can be a good team-building exercise, and it can help move the group more easily through the team evolution process.

9. Consider developing “exit criteria” for the team development phases

Recognizing when a team has concluded a team development phase can be very difficult. Project management team leaders should consider working with the group to create “exit criteria” that define when the team has finished a phase. This can be a good team-building exercise, and it can help move the group more easily through the team evolution process.

10. Use team-building activities to move the group from “me” think to “we” think

Both formal and informal team-building activities throughout the project life cycle are a great way for project management team leaders to develop team spirit. Successful teams have a sense of camaraderie and think in the frame of “we” rather than “me.”

Recommended for you What Is a Team? , The Tuckman Model , Leading a High-Performing Team

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