Five Common Project Leadership Mistakes

According to an article in Project Management Journal, many project leads have little to no training or experience in leading large, complex initiatives. This is happening because organizations are running lean and they frequently have their Guru play a dual role of subject matter expert and project lead. This works when it is a small, contained team and straightforward project. When the project requires more coordination across teams, crosses department lines, and involves multiple executive stakeholders the Guru's lack of project leadership skills impacts project success.

Here are the five most common project leadership mistakes plaguing organizations today.

  1. Starting in the Middle – Project teams see the project as something to get done and miss the opportunity to leverage the project to build internal capacity around communication and collaboration.
  2. Only Communicating Down – Project teams are so focused on keeping the team moving and hitting their milestones, that they forget that other people, particularly across the leadership team, need to know and frankly, care.
  3. Unbalanced Strategy and Tactics – Often teams go too far on either the strategy or tactical ends of the project spectrum. As a result, teams do not envision the same success, anticipate the same touch points and predict the same risks or roadblocks.
  4. Only the Good Stuff – Often teams struggle to discuss challenging issues or situations because they are uncomfortable with conflict. The elephant in the room is never dealt with head on and small problems snowball and stakeholders feel blindsided.
  5. Skipping the Routine – Often when a project is going well, teams stop doing routine things like project meetings and status reports. But in the end, when something comes up (as it is sure to do), chaos can take over because the issue festers without the proper channels to escalate and handle them.

How do you avoid these common mistakes? When selecting a project lead, make sure they have the leadership skills to manage up and down the organization, able to create team synergy, strong ability to create a clear path out of chaos, and inspires the team to believe in their ability to achieve project success.

If you are experiencing any of these, or want to talk about your latest initiative where a strong project leader will be key to your success, schedule a discovery call with MSD Advisors today.