IDEAL Leaders

There are distinct differences between a manager and a leader. According to dictionary.com, a manager is a person who controls and manipulates resources and expenditures. Contrast this to a leader who is defined as a person that leads; a guiding or directing head.

Managers control and manipulate. Leaders guide and direct. In any project, controlling and manipulating processes, tasks, and schedules is absolutely necessary. However, it is the soft skills, the ability to successfully influence and inspire others; that distinguishes a leader from a manager. Leaders inspire greatness in others through effective communication, demonstration, mentoring, and team building.

Ideal leaders demonstrate superior ‘IDEAL’ leadership qualities:

· Integrity — IDEAL leaders are honest, trustworthy, and sincere; they have strong principles; and stand behind those principles.

· Determination — IDEAL leaders are both determined and decisive; they are willing to go the distance whether a project is going well or not so well.

· Empathy — IDEAL leaders are understanding, sympathetic, team players; they look at situations from all perspectives in order to understand the impact to the team, customers, and other project stakeholders.

· Accountability — IDEAL leaders ‘own’ their projects and take responsibility for the work of the team.

· Leadership — IDEAL leaders inspire others to reach their potentials; providing guidance and direction; mentoring and delegating work to challenge and develop their teams. IDEAL leaders lead by example.

Let’s not settle for managing and controlling our projects and project teams. As project managers, we should strive to excel as leaders; IDEAL leaders.

What traits do you believe are critical for leaders?