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Leadership in project management.

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1: Introduction: Project Management is increasingly becoming an essential element in every organization due to the increase in the need for responding to the changes in the business environment with stiff competition as argued by K. G. Lockyer (2005). This is mainly because of the fact that an organization through the deployment of projects can easily respond to the competition and quickly accomplish the target to achieve competitive advantage in its area of business. Apparently this increases the need for an efficient Project Manager who not only has efficient project management skills but mainly effective leadership skills to lead the team comprising the project to accomplish the set tasks. In this essay the leadership essentials for a Project Manager are critically evaluated with examples in order to create profound understanding among the readers on the need for leadership and its effectiveness in Project Management.

2.0: Leadership in Project Management

A project as defined by K. G. Lockyer (2005) has a specific time frame with defined start and end points and is expected to achieve an agreed set of targets with the deployment of resources both men and materials. This makes it clear that the project management not only requires efficient project manager but mainly an efficient project leader who can lead the team effectively. K. G. Lockyer (2005) further argues that the defined duration of the projects which by its very nature makes the project life cycle comparatively over a short period of time to the organization’s overall business process makes it clear that the leadership within a project management environment should not only be spontaneous but mainly focused towards the project and motivate the members of the team to achieve the targets within the agreed framework.

The major traits for effective leadership in a project management environment expected out of a project manager are

Motivation:

Derek Torrington and Laura Hall (2001) argue that the motivation is a critical factor for the success of any projects irrespective of the size of investment. This is mainly because of the fact that the project in itself is of a defined duration and within this time frame the co-ordination and management of people with various skills at one place to achieve a common goal requires the project manager to motivate the members continuously. Alongside, it is also interesting to note that in case of projects, the personnel involved who work for the project manager possess measurable experience and have exceptional skills in their field of expertise. Hence motivation in this case is not the interest to work but to create a feeling of responsibility among the team members in order to encourage them to achieve the goals of the project. Jill Goski et al (2002) argues that the project manager will not only face the issue of motivating a team of highly skilled personnel but above all to enable them work together towards the goal of the project where the issues of power and equity will sprout without having effective motivation skills by the project manager.

The success of the Eden project in the UK to provide a variety of enlightening elements to the visitors in order to increase the visitors and raise funds for the Eden charity is a classical example for the success of motivation based leadership of the project managers in the project.

Performance Appraisal

Performance is an essential element to motivate the staff members in a project as argued by Gail Blackstone (2003). From the case study it is clear that the project involves the use of skilled architects whose performance in the project is the key element for the successful completion of the project itself. This makes it clear that in order to effectively motivate the architects it is essential to conduct regular performance review on a periodical basis by the project manager, which should reflect upon their contribution to the project and add value to their overall performance. Derek Torrington and Laura Hall (2001) further argue that the performance review is not only essential for the overall performance of an organization but for each individual segment of the organization especially the projects under progress within the organization. Hence not only the project manager should conduct performance review within the project but provide constructive review to the personnel embracing both the project goals and the organization’s vision. This makes it clear that he performance appraisal within the project management is not only necessary to motivate the personnel within the project but also to contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Resource Allocation and management

Bennet F. Lawrence (2003) argues that the project managers especially involved in the construction business should consider resource allocation as part of their leadership skills. This is because of the fact that due to the defined life cycle of a project, the resources deployed within the project should not only be accurate but also provide ample support to accomplish the goals of the project. The fact that the project treats the human resource as a refreshable resource (i.e.) a resource that can be shuffled and reshuffled within the project teams as per the requirement makes it clear that the leadership is essential in terms of resource allocation in order to effectively allocate the human resource without the issues of discrimination and de-motivation. This is mainly because of the fact that the frequent changes, which are integral to any project, could affect the nature of work of the people involved in the project, which sometimes may not be appreciated by the members. In order to overcome this issue of resource allocation and establish smooth transition of human resource within the project, it is thus essential for the project manager to effectively lead the members of the team.
From the case study it is also clear that the allocation of the architects itself is considered as resource allocation which justifies the above arguments on leadership for resource allocation.

Apart from the human resource factor, another major element of the resource allocation from a leadership perspective is the fact that the project when utilising common resources, it is the duty of the project manager to provide effective resource allocation that balances the sharing of resources as well as increases the effectiveness of the project. Furthermore, the fact that the resource allocation should not introduce conflict of interest among the members and also maintain optimum usage of the resources makes it clear that the leadership skills are essential in this area of management for the project manager on top of efficient planning and implementation.

Planning

Planning is an integral part of any project as argued by K. G. Lockyer (2005) who says that the project leadership embraces the effective planning. This is because, planning is essential not only to efficiently manage the project but also execute the stages of the project efficiently using the resources and the work force available. The fact that the transition of the project from one stage to another is possible only through the effective leadership of the project manager to identify the appropriate personnel for performing a specific role in a given stage and also effectively manage the transition of the leadership and power between leaders of the teams within the project, makes it clear that the planning and control of the plan is an essential leadership factor that should be possessed by the project manager. It is further interesting to note that in an organizational scenario, the term planning is mainly used different from leadership whilst in a project management scenario planning embraces leadership. This makes it clear that the planning and control of the plan is not only essential to effectively lead the project members but also deploy the optimum use of the resources within the project itself thus eliminating the wastage of resources. The increase in the use of parallel process and serial process techniques through the Gant charts further makes it clear that the effective planning is an essential leadership quality in order o effectively manage the processes and co-ordinate them together at appropriate points.

3: Conclusion and Recommendations

From the above arguments it is clear that the leadership in the project management scenario requires the management tactics to embrace the leadership skills of the project manager. It is also established that the leadership within the project management environment is different to the trivial management environment since the changes accompanied in the project management environment is at a faster rate than in the traditional organization scenario.

Hence it is recommended that the leadership in a project management scenario should be treated different to the traditional leadership training and that the managers are provided with the ample support to effectively lead their team to achieve the agreed target for the project.

References:

Books:
Bennet F. Lawrence (2003), The management of construction : a project life cycle approach , UK: Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann

Derek Torrington and Laura Hall (2001), Personnel Management HRM in Action, UK: Prentice Financial times

Journals
Gail Blackstone (2003), Performance Management in Project Management, UK: Journal of Personnel Management

Goski et al (2002), A Model of Leadership Development, Public Personnel Management, Winter2002, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p517, 6p; (AN 9004393)

K. G. Lockyer, (2005), Project management and project network techniques, UK: Prentice Hall Financial Times

URL(s)

http://www.edenproject.com/


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