in Great Quotes, Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects

Projects as Opportunities to Practice Leadership

If you are managing a project, you have a great opportunity to consciously practice leadership. Project Management is a great leadership opportunity because project:

  • has a vision and goals that realise that vision (VISION)
  • is a great opportunity to make a big difference in client’s business (VALUE)
  • involves working with people and swinging them in meaningful action (ACTION)
  • involves alignment of people with the project vision (ALIGNMENT)
  • allows you to serve your customers (SERVICE)
  • enables you to help your people grow and make them better with each passing project (GROWTH)

So how do you combine effective management practices and leadership fundamentals to get the best out of your team? How do your raise your team above mediocrity?

Here are 10 basic leadership acts for every project manager and project leader:

  • Being a leader means being under scanner. Your actions are being carefully watched. Be self-aware and authentic to set right examples.
  • Get people who are better than you on your team. Celebrate diversity and create a well-rounded team.
  • Learn fast and aim for self-mastery. Excellence in your own work sets a bar for your team.
  • Practice humility. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”
  • Learn to say “I don’t know” when appropriate. If you bluff about anything, your people are smart enough to judge that.
  • Seek early wins in the project. It not only increases team’s confidence but also clients’ comfort.
  • Avoid group think. Try to play “devils advocate” to encourage contrarian thinking.
  • Emphasize on shared responsibility. Project success cannot happen unless everyone plays their part well. Communicate this as often as you can.
  • Manage change effectively because change, as we know, is the only constant!
  • Treat people well when they make mistakes. Mistakes are always a learning opportunity, unless a mistake is repeated.

I recently read a very good quote on Twitter – We always get more from our people by building a “fire within them” than we do by building a “fire under them.”

I am in total agreement with that quote. And you?

Photo courtesy:’s Flickr Photostream


  1. Splendid post, Tanmay.

    For true leaders anything come in their way including Project Management is an opportunity to practice leadership 🙂

    To be a real good leader, one has to be trusted. And if he bluffs about anything, he is going to lose the trust sooner or later.

    For the leader, “bluffing” is just not an option.

    PS: Yesterday, my article on the same subject titled What an Energy-Rich Project Leader Does to Make the Project a Success published at EzineArticles. I believe readers of your blog would enjoy reading this article as well.

  2. Excellent, Tanmay !!

    The place where I am standing, I can say that the “team” should be good enough which can really execute the project with “team work”..!! And such a good team can be created / managed by a skilled Manager / Leader only.

    Otherwise, almost everyone of us would have seen number of good projects with skilled resources going in scrap, if real good leadership is missing…!!

  3. Again a good hit!

    Learning is the only curve of success right from Nursery till your supreme stage in life including Project management & team leading.

    And yes, as mentioned when you are leading people, you are being noticed more & more. My team members will also take same examples of my acts while they are growing under my guidance.

    Thanks for sharing this article and providing the summary to all the leaders & managers to be self learner, hard working, focused, honest, smart & nice for providing the lesson to become such a leader who can visualize the team by occupying ‘in the team’ rather then only visualizing right from the top from being ‘beyond the team’!

  4. @Utpal – Yes, for anyone who is a lifelong student of leadership, all initiatives they take are leadership opportunities. More than act, leadership is a state of mind. A way of thinking. Congratulations for getting published at! Way to go.,

    @Ketan – I am in complete agreement because I have seen great people working in a negative spirit because of poor/lousy leadership.

    @Avani – Leadership, as I mentioned earlier, is a lifelong thing. It is a journey defined by how you think and handle human aspect of work. It is much beyond title and designation.

  5. Great Article ! !

    Specially the 6 points (Vision, Value, Action, Alignment, Service and Growth) that you have explained. And the picture that you attached itself is a complete article on Leadership.

    I Was just thinking about the last two lines of your post where you talked about “Fire within” and “Fire under”.

    What I feel is that to get the best out of your people you should build the both “Fire Within Them” and “Fire Under Them”. Both together complement each other.

    Fire within them will keep them motivated towards their goal, and fire within them will always keep them on their toes and never let them relax.


  6. @Mithilesh – Thanks for sharing that very interesting perspective. I have written earlier on this blog about “Creativity, Effectiveness and Constraints” where I have written about how constraints can help us be more creative and effective. But yes, you are right. Motivation and reasonable pressure is a great combination to get the best out of your people.

  7. Great article Tanmay. “Get people who are better than you on your team.” can be considered a very key aspect here. By getting better people in the team, the leader can give himself/herself a chance to widen his knowledge boundaries.

  8. first of all i would like to thanks for sharing this valuable post. as i manger i have got many point from here. and specially agree with quote.

    thanks again tanmay and keep posting

  9. The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there. ~John Buchan

  10. Your post is a good mix of various aspects of management, mentor-ship and team-building in successful execution of a project at hand. I particularly liked your take on avoiding group think and playing “devils advocate” with a view to encourage contrarian thinking. Being a successful leader can be tough, but if one accepts that the process of leading is a learning process of them too, it becomes easy for both the team members and their leader to grow with the project.

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