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What makes a good leader?

What Makes a Great Project Leader

July 8, 2015 // Erik Nelson

A great project leader is, without question, the best predictor of project success. Even a well scoped out, well funded, and well supported project is doomed without the right leadership in place. And with transformational change occurring in healthcare, every organization needs one.

But great project leaders are rare. They have an uncommon range of skills not found in your average project manager. They are strategic thinkers who can effortlessly navigate the C-suite, master tacticians who can align every project variable, and persistent taskmasters who leave no stone unturned—all wrapped into one. They defy the laws of project management and make the impossible possible.

Top 3 Attributes of a Great Project Leader

There are three core attributes associated with the best project leaders:

  1. They believe that success is about everyone else. They are more concerned about getting the job done than they are at stroking their own egos. They cultivate a results-oriented environment where excellence is the norm. In such an environment, there is genuine appreciation for the unique culture, experience, and talent that exists within in each project and within each organization.
  2. They are principled to a fault. They are flexible with their approach, but unyielding when it comes to guiding principles. Cutting corners, lowering performance standards, compromising goals, and allowing unethical behavior are not tolerated. The best leaders will defend their principles at all costs—even if it puts them at risk.
  3. They are doggedly determined. Complex projects are grueling affairs complete with a never-ending list of problems, unceasing criticism, and long hours. Great project leaders are tough and tenacious. They not only survive difficult situations, they thrive in them.

In essence, character is what separates the best from the rest—tough, principled people who thrive on getting things done.

If you have project leaders like this in your organization, hold on to them—they are worth their weight in gold. If you don’t have them, find them. You’re going to need them.