7 Communication Skills Of Effective Project Leaders

Project managers abound, but highly effective project leaders are much harder to find.The latter are shaped not only by their technical knowledge and capabilities,but by how effectively they communicate with others at all levels.

Great project leaders are objective, trustworthy, focused and confident. They lead byexample, foster an energetic environment and are expert in managing theexpectations of key stakeholders. Here’s a deeper look at these characteristicsand more — plus the role communication plays in project leaders’ success.

Trustworthiness: Most people want to work and dobusiness with leaders they trust. Trust is one of the most important qualitieswe look for in a leader. If people are unsure whether they can trust someone,they are less likely to want to embrace the leader’s vision and direction.

Transparency: This goes together with trust. Strong leaders choose to betransparent in their communications. They want their team to trust not onlywhat they say, but what they mean. There are no hidden agendas or readingbetween the lines. Transparency tells people a lot about your intentions. Andunless the information is intended to be confidential, transparency is more likely to help than hurt.  

Objectivity and fairness: Complex projects pose more risks to team dynamics, for example when individualstakeholders or department objectives clash. Strong leaders are inclusive in their communications and seek to constructively overcome these differences.Effective project leaders actively listen to more than one side without biasand work with key stakeholders to prioritize ideas and find the right solutionsthat best support the overall strategic goals.

Confidence: Stakeholders and executives want project leaders that are confident in their knowledge and abilities but are notarrogant. There is a big difference between the two: Arrogance tends to maketeam members uncomfortable and reluctant, especially when sharing ideas andvoicing differing opinions. Confidence, on the other hand, allows teams to worktoward shared goals.

Energy and motivation: Let’sface it: No one wants a leader that is pessimistic, negative or disengaged.With hectic schedules and projects that don’t always going as planned, aproject leader’s disposition and motivational abilities can mean the differencebetween teams that work cohesively or in complete dysfunction. Highly effectiveproject leaders boost team morale and motivate. This can influence buy-in atall levels and keep support throughout the project.  

Accordingto Matt Barney, founderand CEO of LeaderAmp, persuasion isan important quality:“ Leaders must systematically influence others to executethe project to achieve shared goals,” he says.

Consistency and flexibility:Flip-flopping is not a good strategy when it comes to leadership. Great projectleaders are reliable and consistent with their communication quality, style,and frequency — yet still adapt based on audience needs. Great project leadersestablish themselves as reliable communicators to develop credibility withproject sponsors and flex and adapt during change.

Accessibility: It is impossible for a projectleader to be effective if he or she is inaccessible. Team members andstakeholders need to know they can easily access their project leader andcommunicate freely and without barriers. Highly effective project leaders arenever closed-off.

This may seem like a lofty list, but these qualities make the difference between simplymanaging projects and leading successful ones.