four techniques for a project manager to be a successful leader (part 1 of 2)

Any project manager can be a successful leader, but there are practices and techniques to follow to reach that goal. Being a successful leader helps the project team reach maximum efficiency when delivering a project. I have gathered below four of the most important techniques for successful leadership in a project.

1. start with why!

In 2009, Simon Sinek released the book "Start With Why", a synopsis of the theory he has begun using to teach others how to become effective leaders and inspire change. He explained the concept of the golden circle as he called it.

He defined in his book the golden circle by asking three major questions, What?, How? and Why?
According to Sinek, answering the “Why” question makes great leaders inspire action.

In his book, Sinek finds a common pattern for all successful leaders and organizations like Martin Luther King, Jr., the Wright Brothers and others. He finds that all organizations and experts know what they do, few of them know how to do it right, but, do they know why? Do they know why that specific idea is so important? Why would it change the life of millions? Why would anyone care? Why would it be so different than any other?

Simply, by asking why, you are asking what the purpose of your idea is, what is your cause and what is your belief.

According to the PMBoK, project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Project management is accomplished through the use of the processes such as initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. The project team manages the work of the projects, and the work typically involves:

  • competing demands for: scope, time, cost, risk, and quality
  • stakeholders with differing needs and expectations
  • identified requirements

However, a project manager is not only a person that manages the project but also a person that is capable of handling difficult situations within the team members of the project. He should be able to apply the golden circle in his communication within the team and with the customer. The team should know why they are doing what they do before knowing what to do or how to do it. People in your team should believe what you believe.

Believe in the success of your project, the team will believe so…“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears” says Simon Sinek

2. be careful with words

Dealing with his team or with the customer, a project manager should be capable of communicating the message using the simplest words.

As Terin Izil explained in one of her Ted-Ed Lessons “The power of simple words”, you could say “No coordinates exist like one’s domicile,” but have you tried saying “There’s no place like home” instead? Isn’t that a more straightforward way of communicating the exact same message?

As a successful project manager, you should be able to reach your teams’ minds in the simplest and most efficient ways. However, using the simplest words does not mean using too many abbreviations; that could kill a meeting or a conference call. Remember that an abbreviation that you understand within your organization is not always understood by the customer’s organization!

In my next post, I'll cover two more techniques project managers can use to be successful leaders.

Ahmed Sabry
Ahmed Sabry

I have more than 6 years of professional experience in the Software Development (, Oracle, Toad, CMS projects..etc.) and Telecommunications industry, 3 of which are in the project management division of the global telecom provider, Orange Business and in the brokerage company NAEEM Holding. I hold an MBA in management.

Alongside my professional experience in the IT industry, I have a passion for creating new processes and developing better practices. I am the owner of Gilimag online magazine for youth in the Middle East with a fan base of more than 2000 fans.