All about Project Leadership

Understanding Leadership in a Project Environment

By definition, a project environment is full of change. It’s what we do. But change can feel unsettling for the people going through it, including the project team. Strong leadership skills help guide, motivate and provide direction for project stakeholders.

‘Leadership’ is multi-faceted and includes knowledge of leadership theory, skills such as influencing, negotiating and coaching and behaviors like acting ethically. There’s a lot that goes into effective project leadership. Ready to dive in? We’ve got a wide selection of relevant podcasts on leadership to help you develop and improve your skills.

Leadership Featured Podcast: Leading Projects Without Authority

Listen now to this featured Podcast on project leadership.

You've been there, right? You've managed a project where nobody on the team reported to you. But what can a project manager do to succeed other than beg borrow or steal in this situation? In this featured podcast interview with Jeff Kissinger we look at what project managers can do to successfully deliver their projects even in situations where they have little or no authority over the people on their project.
Jeff Kissinger and Cornelius Fichtner
Jeff Kissinger and Cornelius Fichtner
Scroll down to see the full list of our leadership podcasts.

Definition of Leadership

The knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to guide, motivate, and direct a team, to help an organization achieve its business goals.

Leadership: An Overview

Think about the leaders in your workplace, or previous workplaces. Whose leadership inspires you? Each leader applies their skills and knowledge in a slightly different way to get the best out of the environment and the people they work with.

A lot has been written about the differences between leadership and management, and the main thing to be aware of is that management is about tasks while leadership is about people.

People are the common denominator in all projects, regardless of how large your team is. Leaders deal with people all the time, and strong leadership is crucial if you want your project to be a success. Leadership is the way we work with others and provide guidance to help them move from one position to another. So you can see how important leadership is to driving the work forward and helping the organization get maximum benefit from the change.

As a project manager, you are leading and managing – often at the same time. You are responsible for managing and controlling the work and the project process, but also for motivating and directing the team. It’s a balance. The more you think about your actions and apply emotional intelligence, the easier it will be to find the right balance between management and leadership on a day-to-day basis.

The leader sets the vision. They inspire the people around them. Someone with excellent project leadership skills builds agreement and cohesion through the team. All these points are important to create buy in and secure support for the project’s goals and objectives.

Leaders also create an environment for everyone to excel. The project culture that surrounds them is one that people are drawn to. Stakeholders want to be involved on the project because they know you will ensure the work gets done and at the same time create an environment that’s pleasant to work in.

Part of creating that positive working culture is empowering the team and the wider stakeholder community to get involved in the best way possible. That means removing roadblocks so each team member can complete their tasks without having to worry that something is in the way.

Empowering leaders also push decisions down the hierarchy to the lowest possible level, letting experts make the choices needed to keep the project moving forward.

A lot goes into being a successful leader, and good leaders adopt a growth mindset: they are always learning. What are you going to learn today with our range of leadership podcasts?

There are as many forms of leadership as there are people who lead. Your job as a leader is to make other people successful. It's to align the people on your team, or within your organization, so that they feel empowered to drive the project to completion.
Joseph Flahiff

PM Podcast Episodes on Leadership

Below are just a few of our favorite PM Podcast episodes that talk about leadership.

The Power of Project Leadership

Listen to Susanne Madsen discuss how to shift your mindset to ne of project leadership. Learn about building trust with stakeholders and how to use powerful techniques to build high performing teams. This interview draws on Susanne's excellent book, The Power of Project Leadership.
Susanne Madsen
Susanne Madsen

Are you an Inclusive Project Leader?

Companies with diverse leadership teams are 21% more likely to outperform the companies rated in the bottom quartile of diversity. In this interview with expert Agata Czopek, you'll learn how to describe the attributes of an inclusive leader, identify techniques to improve performance by addressing the unconscious bias, and see that privilege is invisible for those who have it.
Agata Czopek and Cornelius Fichtner
Agata Czopek and Cornelius Fichtner

Effective Meeting Leadership

This interview with Kevin Wozniak focuses on effective meeting management. It covers one of the project management basics that is most difficult to handle - managing stakeholders using different combinations of direct, dotted line, and influential management. In the interview we demonstrate how to effectively lead meetings and manage participants using various management styles and explain how to actively engage meeting attendees to participate in meetings in a valuable manner.
Kevin Wozniak and Cornelius Fichtner
Kevin Wozniak and Cornelius Fichtner

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

At its core, project management is all about effectively leading your team. Emotional intelligence for project managers and project leaders can be just as important (if not more) than knowing how to interpret project performance information. In this interview with Kim Wasson you'll learn how one unhappy person can ruin your plan and how to lead through that situation.
Kim Wasson and Cornelius Fichtner
Kim Wasson and Cornelius Fichtner


You might think of leaders as the person with the most power on the project, but project managers often don’t fit into that category. You can still demonstrate your leadership skills, and flex the power you do have to support your time, communicate effectively, look forward, guide and influence stakeholders to create project deliverables that have a positive impact on the organization. Where are you going to start?

Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Going beyond Project Management Professional (PMP)®, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

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