Project Leadership Qualities

How can project managers cope with chaos?

What are the qualities needed to lead teams through the uncertainties of many business environments?

Projects often exist in chaos because of:

  • vague business requirements
  • lack of strategic direction
  • uncertain scope
  • lack of stakeholder commitment
  • lack of funding approval
  • and many other factors

Project teams usually find chaos and uncertainty difficult to deal with. Many team members simply want to contribute their skills and expertise to achieving concrete goals and project objectives. Chaos is very distracting to them.

Generally, project managers define, monitor and control processes, tasks and resources. However, to be really effective, inspired project leadership qualities are also required. In fact, chaos is an opportunity to shine as a leader!

These are some of the main qualities of a true leader:

  • vision
  • communication
  • enthusiasm and energy
  • inspiration
  • and others


It is essential for a leader to have a picture of where the team is heading. Even when scope and requirements are not yet clear, the true leader takes into account the business context and technical environment and draws a savvy conclusion, mixed with a bit of creative juice, to formulate a worthy end goal.

This picture may change as various forces and information come to bear and the mist and fog clears, but the team must be confident their leader knows where they are heading.

Communication – Share the Vision

It is no good having a vision if you can’t communicate it! The ability to tell a story is one of the most powerful forces to pass on an idea, philosophy, objective or goal. People love stories and will listen to someone who does it well.

If you can communicate your vision well, people will follow you. Once the people are on board, the project will progress.

Enthusiasm and Energy – Share the Passion

Great project leadership provides the team with an example, a model to emulate. High enthusiasm and energy are infectious. Vigor and a positive “can do” attitude are needed to deal with the many challenges the project team will face. If the project manager is listless and defeatist, or just indifferent, the team will follow in a like manner.

An upbeat disposition and a sense of humor are also very good to cultivate.


A true leader is always coming up with ideas to solve problems, to illustrate points, to motivate team members and to engage project stakeholders. By applying creative energy to all aspects of the project the project manager provides effective leadership. Even when relying on the ideas of particular team members in areas that involve their specific expertise, the project manager should be taking the lead in the facilitation of those ideas.

Always ensure you are providing inspired project leadership to maintain the team on course.

Someone will assume the project leadership role. Make sure it’s you!