Projects are the way through which work gets done. Whether big, small, simple or complex, projects possess various common characteristics. Firstly, they have a start and an end. They do not run to infinity. Secondly, they are all unique. They may resemble other earlier projects but they are unique in various variables. These variables include their environment, period and resources. Thirdly, they lead to the creating deliverables. Finally, they all have resources assigned to them. The resources may either be part-time, full-time or a combination of the two. Projects are undertaken by all organisations.
Their management can be done using a common range of project management procedures. Similar project management procedures can be used irrespective of the project being undertaken. Projects must have a definition and a plan. They should also have procedures for management of risks, quality, status and scope. Despite projects being unique, common lifecycle models are applied in building the deliverables. But most importantly, scalable and common project management processes are applied effectively on all projects. Regardless of whether one is managing a small or large project, various leadership styles are used.
It is very important to understand these styles and their effect in order to become a better and more flexible leader. The most common styles are autocratic, bureaucratic, democratic Laissez-faire and people oriented types of leadership. Others include servant, task-oriented, transactional and transformational. In a project environment, one requires flexibility in these leadership styles since the various phases have got their specific demands that may be different from the other phases. General leadership styles and skills Project managers must show two leadership styles: transformational and transactional.
He should give guidance to the team by identifying their role and responsibility in the project. He should give inspiration to them in order to finish the project’s tasks. It has been established that people with outstanding leadership skills turn out to be good in management of projects too. This is because they are visionary, motivating and can bring people together. Above all, they have great accomplishments (Bryman, 1986). Project managers must be competent in the project’s technology and generally how to manage a business entity.
This will lead to mutual respect and confidence between him and the other members of the team and administration. Management skills as well as business management competence are essential. The project manager must use sound management skills consistent with the organisation’s management style. The project manager must be alert, quick, a good listener, versatile and above all very flexible. He should be able to adjust any current plan to a better one. Being flexible means having a tough willingness in changing plans to acknowledge current realities for the sake of the project’s successful completion.
The project manager must be of good ethics and full of energy. He should adjust to working for over forty hours per week. He should also be always available to the various people involved and interact with them. A good project manager must always be interested in details and possess great optimism with a strong belief that it can be done. He should not assume anything he is not sure of. He should always speak his mind and mean it. In addition, he should regard others as allies and not foes. Respect for other people and acknowledgement of good performance is important. He must always see the bigger picture and keep that perspective.
Moreover, he should be interested in knowing why things have to be one in a certain way and not the other. Above all, a good project manager must be both a manager and a leader for a project to be completed successfully (Glanz, 2002). A good project manager must also be a good problem solver. He should be able to handle a situation where he is presented with tough choices to make. Problem solving will involve recognition of the problem and acknowledging that endeavouring to solve the problem is worthwhile. This has to be done with a positive attitude. The next step is defining the problem and clearly understanding it.
The third step involves generating alternative solutions for the problem. Finally, one must narrow down the alternatives after a thorough examination of each of them, and then decide (Heerkens, 2001). The project manager must foster teamwork among the members. The most important resource in a project is the team. It is about the people one works with. This team can comprise members from various different departments of the organisation or just one department. The recommended project team comprises members drawn from different organisations. The team has the following responsibilities:
A team is formed by people who understand their role. They are led by a project manager who is interested in the success of the project. The project manager is vital. He must display a flexible approach in his leadership style (Lewis, 1995). Leadership style and skills through the phases
Regardless of the complexity or scope, all projects go through various phases during their lives. There is initiation where output and essential factors of success are defined. The planning phase, whose principal characteristic involves a break down of the project into smaller manageable units. Next is the execution phase where the planned project is carried out. Finally there is exit phase marking the project completion (Visit Ask, 2004). Initiation This is the initial stage of the project where a clear definition of the project’s scope is done alongside the approach to be employed in delivering the required output.
This is where the project management team is chosen basing on their experiences and skills. The project leader must be very flexible to allow a change or overhaul of the scope if need arises. His leadership style should be such that it allows contributions of all the team members for the project to run smoothly. This will make use of the various skills, experiences and talents that will go a long way in delivering a high quality output. Planning This stage involves identifying in detail all the tasks and assigning them. It also involves analyzing risk and defining a criterion for successfully completing every deliverable.
This is where the definition of the governing process is done. Identification of stakeholders, period of reporting and the channels are agreed. Business Plans are used in this stage. The project manager should be able to assign tasks and responsibilities to the right people basing on their experience, skills and talents. The project leader should be flexible enough not think he is the most knowledgeable and experienced of all the team members. He should do more of coordination since he is good among equals. The governance process of the project should also avoid rigidity to allow free participation of all members of the team.
In as much as it is important to adhere to the time schedule, this should not compromise the quality of the output. The team should therefore have an allowance within its stipulated completion of the various tasks. This will involve extending the time for some tasks while reducing it for others. The plans used in the project should also have contingency alternatives to be used in case of failure of the original. This should be done in consultation with other team members and stakeholders and of course the client. Execution and controlling This is where one ensures proper control and execution of project activities.
During this phase, the earlier plan is implemented in solving the particulars of the project’s specifications. When developing the product and system, a design that results in a particular set of product requirements is made. Measurement of the convergence is done using prototypes, tests and a review. During the execution stage, a plan for the final testing, producing and support is made by the various groups in the organisation. Some of the tools employed during this phase include Milestones Reviews and Business Plan. This is a very sensitive area that needs proper teamwork. Models and prototypes are developed and tested.
There should be flexibility to allow improvement of the prototype. Again, the skills, talents and experience of the team members should be used for the sake of a good quality project output. Closure This is the final stage of the project. The manager ensures the project is completed properly. A formal project review report is written. It involves the client officially accepting the product, comparing the client specifications with those of the product. Other contents include a reward to the team, lessons learned, release of the project’s resources and an official closing notification to the top management.
Conclusion Project management is an important aspect of many organisations. It is therefore important that these projects deliver their desired results within the stipulated period of time. This calls for teamwork among the stakeholders, clients and the project team members. Most importantly, the project team needs to work together. The team leader must therefore ensure the team works together harmoniously. He should therefore adopt a flexible style in leadership to accommodate all the skills, talents and experiences of the members. This will ensure that good quality output is delivered at the end of the project.
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