Leadership

Adopt the Perfect Leadership Style for Your Project’s Success

Estimated reading time: 9 minute(s)

Adopt the Perfect Leadership Style for Your Project’s Success

Adopt the Perfect Leadership Style for Your Project’s Success

As a project manager, you’re in charge of creating success for your projects. The key to that success is in your ability to lead your team effectively, using a variety of different leadership styles to best fit the needs of your projects.

In this article, we will discuss the different leadership styles of project managers and how you can leverage your style and adopt other styles to create an effective team dynamic.

Qualities of Effective Leadership

Before we dive into the leadership styles of project managers, let’s first discuss the qualities of effective leadership. The best project managers display a mix of several different leadership qualities. The most important qualities of effective leadership include:

  • Vision: A good project manager can see the big picture and develop a clear vision for the project.
  • Communication: A good project manager is an excellent communicator. They can communicate their vision for the project and motivate their team to achieve it.
  • Passion: A good project manager is passionate about their work and projects. This passion is contagious and motivates team members to do their best work.
  • Integrity: A good project manager has integrity and is honest with their team. They can build trust with their team by being transparent and keeping their word.
  • Emotional intelligence: A good project manager has high emotional intelligence. They can understand and manage their emotions toward themselves and others.
  • Decision-making: A good project manager can make decisions quickly and efficiently. They consider all options and make the best decision for the project.

8 Leadership Styles of Project Managers

There are many different leadership styles of project managers. The best project manager will use a mix of different leadership styles depending on the situation. The most common leadership styles of project managers include:

Authoritative

If you have an authoritative leadership style then you are a project manager who takes charge and makes decisions without consulting your team. This is a fantastic style for projects that need a clear vision and a tight schedule.

The problem with this leadership style is that it can lead to a lack of buy-in from the team. Authoritative leaders tend to be micromanagers and can be overbearing.

This leadership style should be used sparingly and only when necessary. Team members may feel like they are not being heard or that their input is not valued.

A good example of an authoritative project manager is Steve Jobs, founder of Apple. When working on projects for Apple, Jobs was a strong leader who rarely consulted others before making decisions.

Autocratic

If you have an autocratic leadership style, you may be a project manager that has total control over your team. This is best used in situations where your team needs specific instructions and execution times.

The problem with this leadership style is that it can be very stressful for team members, especially if they are not happy with their workload or disagree with decisions being made.

This leadership style should only be used when necessary. If you’re an autocratic leader then you need to be careful not to micromanage your team or be too overbearing. You could easily disempower your employees.

A good example of an autocratic project manager is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. Gates was known for being a demanding leader who expected his team to work long hours and follow strict schedules.

Coaching

If you are a project manager who uses a coaching method, your job is to act more like a mentor and instructor to your team. This style is great when your team members need guidance or mentorship, and the project has complex tasks that require a lot of support.

The best situation for this leadership style is when team members are new to their roles or lack experience in a certain area, or when the project has a lot of moving parts.

The coaching leadership style can be ineffective if the project manager is not experienced enough or does not have the time to give adequate support. It can also lead to dependency, as team members may become too reliant on the project manager for guidance.

A good example of a coaching project manager is Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook. When she first started at Facebook, she took a coaching leadership approach with her team. She gave them the support they needed to be successful in their roles and helped them grow into their positions.

Democratic

The democratic leadership style is when the project manager consults the team and takes their input into account before making decisions. This style is best used when the team needs to be motivated and engaged.

The disadvantage of this leadership style is that it can lead to decision-making paralysis. If the team cannot come to a consensus, the project manager may have to make the final decision. This can be frustrating for team members who feel like their voices are not being heard.

A good example of a democratic project manager is Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. He is known for his open and transparent leadership style. He consults with his team before making decisions and values their input.

Laissez-faire

The laissez-faire leadership style is when the project manager gives the team complete freedom to work on the project. This style is best used when the team is highly skilled and knows what needs to be done.

The disadvantage of this leadership style is that it can lead to a lack of direction. Without the project manager’s input, the team may veer off course and not meet the project goals.

A good example of a laissez-faire project manager is Larry Page, co-founder of Google. He is known for trusting his team and giving them the freedom to work on their projects without much direction.

Charismatic

The charismatic leadership style is when the project manager uses their personality to inspire and motivate the team. This style is best used when the team is struggling to stay engaged and needs a jolt of energy.

The main disadvantage of this leadership style is that it can be time-consuming, as project managers have to spend a lot of time interacting with team members. This can also be problematic if the project manager is not very likable or charismatic, as their leadership may not be effective.

A good example of a charismatic leader would be someone like Gary Vaynerchuk, a successful entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He is known for his energetic and enthusiastic personality, which has helped motivate and inspire his team to work hard and achieve their goals.

Transformational

The transformational leadership style is when the project manager leads by example and motivates the team to achieve their best work. This style is best used when the team needs direction and motivation.

The disadvantage of this leadership style is that it requires a lot of energy and may not be sustainable over the long-term. It can also be difficult to maintain a high level of motivation and engagement from team members in the long term.

A good example of a transformational project manager is Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, and media mogul. She is known for her ability to motivate and inspire people to achieve their best work. She sets the example for her team and leads by example.

Servant

The servant leadership style is when the project manager serves the team and helps them to achieve their goals. This style is best used when the team needs support and guidance.

The disadvantage of this leadership style is that it can lead to a lack of accountability. If the project manager becomes too involved in meeting the needs of the team and does not hold them accountable for their work, the project may not meet its goals or deadlines.

A good example of a servant leadership style is Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity. She was known for her selfless service to others and her dedication to meeting the needs of her team.

Visionary

This leadership style is best used when the project manager is able to think strategically and set a clear vision for the project. This style involves making informed decisions and having high emotional intelligence. Also, a huge plus to this style is when the vision is accepted and integrated into the team, it can carry a huge impact on momentum.

When team members understand how their work contributes to the success of a project, they may be more inclined to utilize their unique talents because they know how important it is. The effectiveness of this method is greatest after a strong team bond has been formed.

The visionary leadership style can have its disadvantages as well. In order for this style to be successful, the project manager needs to have a clear and concise vision. If the vision is not communicated effectively, it can lead to confusion and frustration among team members. Additionally, this style requires a great deal of trust from team members. If team members do not trust the project manager, they may be less likely to follow their vision.

An example of a visionary leader would be Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. He is known for his ability to think strategically and set ambitious goals for his company. His visionary leadership style has been instrumental in the success of both Tesla and SpaceX, as both companies continue to break new ground in their respective industries.

Simplifying Leadership Styles into 3 Types

Essentially you can boil down all of the styles into three buckets: directive leadership, supportive leadership, and participative leadership.

1. Directive leadership:

This typically involves taking a more hands-on approach and providing clear instructions to team members. It can be effective in high-pressure situations where there is a need for quick results.

In most cases, authoritative, autocratic, visionary, and charismatic leadership styles may be described as directive; they entail taking a more active role in directing team members and issuing clear instructions.

2. Supportive leadership:

This type of leadership emphasizes building relationships and motivating team members. It can be helpful in situations where team morale is low or when there is a need to build trust and cooperation.

Coaching, transformative, and servant leadership approaches are frequently regarded as supportive since they focus on boosting team members’ performance.

3. Participative leadership:

This type involves involving team members in decision-making and delegating tasks accordingly. It can be beneficial in situations where you need buy-in from team members or when you want to promote a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Participative leadership types are frequently associated with democratic and servant leadership approaches. Essentially, they encourage teamwork and cooperation among team members.

How to discern which leadership style to use.

  • Consider the needs and goals of your team. If your team needs clear instructions or support to stay motivated, a directive or supportive leadership style may be best.
  • Pay attention to how well your team responds to each leadership style. If a particular approach does not seem to be working as well as you had hoped, it may be time to try a different approach.
  • Take stock of your skills and preferences when it comes to leadership. Some project managers may naturally be more inclined toward one particular leadership style, while others may be able to adapt their approach based on the needs of their team.

SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP

While there is no “one best leadership style” for project management, a popular approach is to utilize a range of different leadership styles depending on the situation.

One particularly useful framework for doing this is situational leadership, which involves tailoring your approach based on the readiness and competence of your team members.

At its core, situational leadership emphasizes adapting your leadership style to best meet the needs of your team. This involves assessing the situation, analyzing what is required for success, and then acting accordingly.

Whether you need to take a more directive or supportive approach can vary depending on many different factors, including the project goals, challenges faced by your team, and the existing skill levels and experience of team members.

Let’s say you are pioneering a new project for a startup company and you are faced with a team that is inexperienced and lacks confidence. In this situation, using a more supportive leadership style could help to build the team’s motivation and morale, while also helping them to develop their skills over time.

On the other hand, if you are leading a team of highly skilled professionals who are working on an important project with a lot of pressure and tight deadlines, a more directive leadership style may be best to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and on time.

Conclusion

No matter what leadership style you adopt, remember to always communicate your vision for the project and build trust with your team. To be the best project manager you can be, you’ll need to use a mix of these different leadership styles that best fit your situation and the goals of your team’s projects.

Ultimately, the best project manager is one who is adaptable and willing to learn from their experiences. Whether it’s a high-pressure situation or an exciting new opportunity, change is inevitable in the world of project management. By having an open mind and being willing to adapt your leadership style, you can best meet the needs of your team and achieve success.

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