5 Project Management Leadership Styles and When to Change Yours

Leadership is no longer a one-size-fits all approach. Situational project management leadership is the new standard.

What does leadership style mean?
Leadership style describes how you approach, manage and support your team. It’s the role you play in helping them achieve a specific goal–what you’re focused on, the degree of your involvement/engagement, and how you respond to different stimuli.
66 days. This is how long it takes for a new skill to be learned. It takes more than two months to rewire your brain’s actions, chemistry, and reactions before you can learn a new skill.
Many people associate learning new skills with learning to play an instrument or to speak another language. Project management leadership is also a skill. There are many styles of leadership available, and each person has a default approach.
Here’s the problem: You don’t have 66 consecutive days to learn how to lead a team. You’ll either lose the project or the team by the time you get up to speed.
Fortunately, remembering is not the same thing as learning.
You can learn which style to use in different situations now, so you can draw on that knowledge later, adapt your approach to the needs and get to work.
This article will outline five leadership styles and help you choose the right style for your project.
Situational project management leadership is better than a one-size fits all approach to project management
The digital world is having a profound effect on how we work. It disrupts technology and human structures as well as technology and processes.
Many aspects of traditional leadership–including using a one-size-fits-all approach–simply no longer work. Flexibility and responsiveness are now the norm, replacing predictability and consistency.
“A one-size-fits all approach, rather than providing consistency, engenders constraint. It disrupts execution, rather than boosting performance.
–Suzanne Adnams, Tina Nunno Gartner VP Analysts (full report available for Gartner clients).
Leaders must adopt adaptive and situational leadership practices to enable teams to thrive in the digital age.
Below you will find four techniques to help you identify your default style and four other techniques to help you master situational leadership practices for project management.
If the team is young and inexperienced, one technique, another if they are self-managed, etc.
Understanding the differences in leadership styles
Gartner’s report, “Five Situational Leadership Styles for CIOs Working with Digital Teams” outlines the different styles that leaders can adopt depending upon the composition of their team and the desired outcome (full report available for Gartner clients).
Pay attention to the type and characteristics of each style as you read the descriptions. This will be your main identifier to determine which style to use in a given situation.
1. Collaborator
Collaborators are involved in the day-to-day activities of the team. They provide operational support and act as an in-team resource, offering guidance, knowledge sharing, and helping to develop best practices. They evaluate performance based upon how the team responds during execution to situations and tasks.
Most effective with: Inexperienced, new, or learning teams
2. Commander
Commanders are hands-off leaders. They don’t interfere in daily operations unless the project/plan requires it.

Author: Victoria