As a project manager, you have a lot of responsibilities to carry out and probably don’t need me to list those. But your responsibilities and your role as the team leader are different things. You may be responsible for finishing the project on time, but your role as the leader may be to motivate your team so that they do finish the project on time.
Different project managers undertake different roles, it all depends on how they approach their work and also, how many team members they have. If a team consists of one or two members, the atmosphere can be super friendly and it’s much easier to monitor every task. But as the numbers keep rising, some difficulties start to arise:
Team members may be slacking due to poor monitoring
Not knowing all the steps that are needed to be taken from start to finish may lead to total chaos
Stuff like this keeps coming up all the time and it’s pretty natural we are all people right? Mistakes happen and that’s fine. What project managers need to achieve though isn’t just discipline or having the team live in fear for their position in order to get the work done. You have to inspire your team members and make them feel a part of something bigger, which is worth investing time and effort into.
The know it all
Remember that kid at school that studied 24/7 and was the first one to jump up at a teacher’s question wanting to answer it? This is exactly who you want to be for your team. As the leader, you need to have all the answers, always.
In dire situations when everything is falling apart, your team is going to turn to you for saving the day and you should be at the top of your game. Being the “bossy know it all” in a slightly friendly manner will help build up confidence in your team members, knowing that everything will be fine in pretty much any case.
The tricky point is not to make your team overconfident and lure them into a false sense of security, which can lead to thoughts like “No matter how bad I do, our PM will fix it”. Helping out is good, but you want your team to feel responsible for their tasks too.
The decision maker
In the end you are the one who is going to be responsible in case the project fails. If your team member suggests a bad idea and you follow blindly, you can’t just say “well, Charlie thought it’s a good idea so I followed it”.
Making all the right decisions in the tightest situations is one of your main roles. You want to encourage your team to generate ideas, but it’s up to you to decide whether they are good or bad.
Planning. This is the core of every successful project. Like the most famous warriors in history, you need to be a strategist and make the best plan possible for each project. Use the experience and expertise of fellow project managers, team members, your own experience and data to make the most suitable plan.
When making a plan, make sure you address every detail, however small and insignificant it may seem. All the small things add up to make a chaos storm in the end, which you want to prevent at all costs.
On the verge of armed conflict, countries send this one guy to the hostile country to negotiate terms of peace. Millions of lives depend on the person and his ability to talk to people. You need to be that guy who saves millions of lives with pure communication and negotiation skills.
Communication is the next important thing after planning and the tricky part here is that it doesn’t depend on solely on you it’s a team effort. All your team has to be good at communicating with each other, and you have to guide and show them how everything should be done. Be the perfect role model for them.
Basically, Shepherds manage sheep, thousands of sheep. Ever occurred to you how a single man manages to guide and not lose a single one out of those thousand? Well, perhaps because he is just so damn good at his job.
At some point when everything goes bad, your team will be lost for answers and not know where to go next just like lost sheep. It’s going to be your job as the manager to guide them all to the light (or warehouse) and not miss anyone out of the race. Confidence and knowledge are essential for this role. People will be more inclined to follow a confident person, rather than another lost person.
This role should be avoided whenever you can (as it opposes the leader role in every term), but sometimes, it’s inevitable. You have to be that ruthless guy with no heart and just make your team feel the fear.
Fear is the most efficient way to establish control and sometimes when every second matters, there is just simply no time to sit, discuss and think about things. This is a crucial role for crisis management that you absolutely need to have.
This is also useful for cases when you accidentally have to fill the role of project manager. To avoid all kinds of minor trouble (employee dissatisfaction, arguments, anger, etc.) your inner tyrant has to be there to set things right, before shifting to the leader role.
One last thing. The tyrant will be respected only if he or she possesses all of the above mentioned skills. You may get a grip of fear on a group of 10 people, but if you don’t know everything, can’t motivate and guide your team, you will slowly lose that battle.
Project management is the most diverse profession in the world. You need to be that one guy who wears all the hats comfortably and motivates his or her team to strive for success. It’s not always the end result that matters: progress is equally (if not even more) important.