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Understanding The Role of Proactive Leadership in Project Management

What You Need in Your Skills Capability Uplift Playbook

“Be explicit in your communication. Avoid ambiguity. It raises more questions than answers.”

- Rudi Jaya, Project Manager, MetaPM

Hi! I'm Rudi, and I’ve been a MetaPM project manager for the last three years. I currently work with the Department of Defence, developing M1A2 Abrams simulation and training capabilities for the Australian Army.  

So how exactly did I get here? I started as a business analyst and worked my way up from test leader to test manager to PM Coordinator before becoming a project manager. 

My diverse experience has led me to become the successful and proactive project manager I am. As a project manager, you must successfully lead and manage a project from start to finish. Having first-hand experience in various positions within the team allows me to bring unique strengths and skills to my role, enabling me to better understand and support my team. In short, it gives me a holistic view of the framework and how we all work together to achieve a successful outcome.

MetaPM was founded in 2006 by a group of management experts with a vision to do project consulting in the best way possible. In 2022, they joined MI-GSO | PCUBED, a world-leading PMO & Project Management Consulting group. 

My Type of Leadership Style

When it comes to project management, I pride myself on being a proactive leader. Proactive leadership takes work and is considerably more effective than simply being reactive. It’s a method that only works if you carve out time out of your day in order to focus on it. So let’s look at it this way:

Reactive Leadership

Reactive leadership is something that comes naturally but isn’t necessarily practical. It’s easy in that you need only focus on work that is a priority at the time. The more urgent the request, the faster you work to complete it before moving on to the next. It’s like a mouse on a wheel. If you spend your working day reactively, you are essentially satisfying the priorities of others and not necessarily doing what is best for the team––this is why I prefer to opt for a proactive leadership style in project management.

Proactive Leadership

As a proactive leader, I believe success relies on the outcome, so I take time to plan. Planning allocates adequate time towards an individual team member's priorities whilst allowing me to complete my job as project manager. 

Focusing on my resources and my people improves how our team functions as a whole. We are all there to work together to achieve a common goal. This makes every team position valuable regardless of whether or not you are a subject matter expert or project team member. As a project manager, it’s critical to build trust. You do this by giving authority. People will make mistakes, and that’s ok. It’s an opportunity to learn.

Mentor: Engage and Motivate the Team

My philosophy is to proactively lead by example. I am a mentor and work to help others build upon their skills. If you want your team to be successful, you need your team members to feel confident in their abilities. When uncertain, people often look to others for guidance. As a project manager, it is my job to mentor them. Leading by example is how you will not only build but sustain cooperative relationships within your team. 

Personally, I am a people person. I appreciate that there are different types of people, various personalities with different working habits. I like to talk to and understand each of my team members on a personal level and make them feel valued. I operate under an open-door policy and always make myself available for support.

Resolving an Unbalanced Team Workload

As a project manager, I am at the helm of a group of team members charged with the shared responsibility of an outcome. Occasionally, some of those within the team may need to pick up the slack of others who aren't contributing to the best of their ability. Before this can get to a stage of resentment or animosity within the team, I take a deep dive into the management of the task itself by asking myself the following questions such as has

  • Has the given task been appropriately assigned?
  • Is the required support available in order to complete the task? 

It’s important to identify the cause of the issue rather than focusing on pointing fingers. Have a discussion with the team member involved, perhaps there are other issues involved. Engage in ongoing check-ups. Again, this all comes down to being a proactive project manager.

Resolving Disagreements: Listen to Hear, Not Speak

When it comes to project management, disagreements are part of the parcel. After all, different personalities have different ways of thinking, and like most exercises, communication is always essential. As is understanding that issues can’t always be resolved there and then.

As a proactive leader, I take a step back. This gives me an opportunity to acknowledge each party's point of view and the suggestions they have put forward. I can then weigh up the pros and cons, come back and renegotiate the disagreement at hand. There is always a solution, though it isn’t always one that everyone can be happy with. The key takeaway is acknowledgement––people want to be heard. So listen to hear, and not to speak.

Consensus Decision-Making

As a project manager, you are often faced with significant challenges as you navigate your team towards a successful outcome. Keeping your team in agreement while keeping the project on track is just one of them. Essentially it comes down to communication. The channel of communication needs to be open from beginning to end. Starting as a whole with an open dialogue will establish trust and a rapport within the team where honesty and transparency are respected and valued.

Closing Thoughts

If you are a people person, project management could be an excellent career path. Although you manage projects, you also manage people. And communication is a big part of that role.

With that being said, in my experience, we need the right people, and not so much the right skills. So don’t let that put you off. Skills can always be developed or improved. Effective teams are often built from the ground up with the right people from the onset.

So If you're looking to work for an organisation that emphasises the value of its people, then MetaPM might be the place for you. 

MetaPM cares; they invest in continuous education and recognise the need for project managers to build upon their skills. If this gravitates toward your values, connect with MetaPM today

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