Leadership style of a project manager in different phases of team formation is a very interesting topic. Although, this topic is not specifically mentioned in the PMBOK Guide, question from this topic has been seen in the exam.
Therefore, today I am going to talk about the leadership style of a project manager in the different phases of team formation.
Before we move any further, it is very important for you to know the difference between a leader and a manager, because they have different characteristics, and they are not the same.
It is quite possible that you can be a good leader but not a good manager and vice versa.
As a project manager you should have both qualities: not only do you have to lead your team, but also manage your project efficiently.
Leaders have followers who share the same vision.
A leader always leads his followers, and involves with them with their task. A leader motivates and influences the followers to get the job done.
While the leaders have followers, managers have subordinates who follow the orders. Managers manage the team with authoritative power, and control them in order to complete the task.
Role of the Project Manager
As a project manager you must have or earn the qualities of a leader as well as a manager, because you have to lead and manage your team to complete the project successfully.
Leadership qualities are necessary for you as it is not guaranteed that you will always work in projectized organizations. Sometimes you may have to work in a weak matrix or balanced matrix organization where your authority will be limited. In such cases, you will need leadership qualities to influence and motivate your team members.
Although, leadership and management are not the same, they are complementary to each other. If you failed in either of them, you might face many problems in completing your project successfully.
Leadership Style of the Project Manager
Now, let’s get to the point.
As per Bruce Tuckman, there are five stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. These stages are known as Tuckman Stages.
In each stage, the behavior of team member will be different, and the project manager has to act accordingly.
Let us discuss the role of the project manager at each stage of team formation.
In this stage, the team has just been formed and members do not know each other. Team members don’t have proper understanding about their roles and responsibilities, and tend to work independently.
Here, the project manager will have to work in an autocratic or directing style to manage team members; otherwise there will be mess and chaos everywhere.
This is the second stage after Forming. In this stage, team members start getting to know each other, and start to understand their roles and responsibilities.
Here, team members still need solid command of leadership to keep them aligned. In this stage, the project manager will be a little less autocratic than in the Forming stage. He will display a coaching style of leadership.
In this stage, team members have sound understanding about their roles and responsibilities, begin to work together, and adjust their habits and behavior that supports the team.
Since team members have started to understand each other and are clear about their expectations, the project manager will be more liberal. Here, the project manager will act as a facilitating leader.
In Performing stage, team members start working as a team. They are interdependent and have adjusted to each other. Now they are a high performing team, and can work without any special supervision.
Here, team members work as a team and are perfectly aligned with each other, hence they require minimum monitoring. In this stage, the project manager acts in a Laissez-Faire style, or as a supporting leader.
Laissez-Faire is a French word which means “don’t interfere” or “Let do”. Laissez-Faire leadership is also known as delegative leadership. In this leadership style, the project manager trusts his team members and allows them to work freely.
This leadership style is useful when team members are very skilled, experienced and capable of doing independently.
In this stage, the project is completed, and the team is released or deputed to another project.
Here, again, the project manager will act in a Laissez-Faire style.
As a project manager you should lead your team based on their behavior and understanding towards the project. There is no hard rule which governs the leadership style of the project manager in different phases of the project; e.g. initiation, planning, execution, etc.
You have to act according to your team’s behavior, which varies depending on different projects.
However, since most of the staff will be hired at the beginning of the execution phase, not much staff is needed during initiation and planning phases. Therefore, I think it will be safe to assume that the Forming stage includes the initiation, planning and beginning of execution phase. Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning will follow the same order.
As a project manager you should have the qualities of a manager as well as a leader. Management qualities will help you achieve your tasks and obtain objectives; on the other hand, leadership qualities will help you motivate team members and influence them to work efficiently.
Your management style may not change, but your leadership may change according to the stages of team formation. Your leadership style will vary in different stages of team formation, however your objective will be the same: to lead the team to achieve a common objective.
This was all about the role of the project manager in different stages of team formation.
This topic is very important from a PMP exam point of view. You may see one or two questions from this topic in your exam.