The #1 Leadership Quality In Project Management

Mike Girdler

Effective communications equals project happiness What’s the #1 skill of a great project leader? The ability to communicate effectively. There are varying stats about how …

Effective communications equals project happiness

Business Flow ChartWhat’s the #1 skill of a great project leader? The ability to communicate effectively. There are varying stats about how much time a project leader spends communicating on a project “90% of the project leader’s job is communication” some argue “75% of the job is communicating”. Regardless of what the actual stat is, the ability to communicate is critical to project success.

Effective communication is a delicate balance of talking and listening, and it impacts every aspect of a project. It requires the delivery of the right message to the right people, using the right communication channel, with the right frequency, and the ability to receive critical information from all stakeholders.

3 big project benefits of effective project leader communications

#1 Understanding and focus from the outset

When the project leader effectively communicates, it sets the stage for success at the outset of the project. Effective communication with all team members, stakeholders, customers and executives, ensures everyone knows and has a uniform understanding of what the project is – what it looks like, why the project is being undertaken, and the importance the project has to the organization as a whole. It focuses everyone on the same goal.

#2 High performing project teams

For a project team to be hitting on all cylinders and performing at a high level, an effective project leader must be able to disseminate information to his/her team and other stakeholders, and possess the ability to receive, evaluate and act on information. When the project leader delivers good, clear and timely communication, it ensures team members understand their role, and know what is expected of them. It ensures team members are on task, working together and aware of project status, changes and timelines. Similarly, a great project leader has to create a project environment that allows him/her to be able to receive information from team members, and other stakeholders that impact the project, to ensure a high level of project performance.

#3 Stakeholders in the know…expectations met!

An effective project leader has to be able to interact and communicate with team members, the sponsor, executives, customers and vendors. He/she needs to understand the requirements and expectations of the stakeholders and customize communications to meet their needs. Specifically, for each, what information do they want and need – status reports, changes, project documents? How do they want it delivered – e-mail, in person, team meetings? How often do stakeholders want the information – daily, weekly? By making sure they understand the various stakeholder needs and communicating to meet the needs, a great project leader keeps everyone in the loop, keeps the project moving along, and prevents any surprises for stakeholders at the project’s completion.

These are just 3 examples of what effective communication can do for a project when delivered by a great project leader. Do you have any examples of how great communications can ensure success on a project? Let me know.

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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