Previously I wrote a post about Project Leadership where I discussed the distinction between power and authority. The major take away from the post is that it’s better for a project manager to exercise leadership by obtaining “buy-in” from team members and stake holders and use a coaching leadership style when working with project team members.

Leadership had become an important part of the PMP.  It is a component of Domain I (People) of the Exam Content Outline and there are a fair number of questions on the exam relating to leadership.  We cover project leadership in Chapter 5 of our PMP Exam Prep book Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep.

Project Leadership

  1. Project Leadership According to PMI
  2. Project Leadership Versus Management
  3. Servant Leadership
  4. Project Leadership and Communication
  5. Emotional Intelligence and Project Leadership

Project Leadership According to PMI

The Project Management Institute (PMI) takes a more comprehensive approach to leadership.  It is identified as part of Domain 1 or the Exam Content Outline (ECO) for the PMP, and is part of a suite of “people skills” that PMI tests people on as part of the exam.

Leadership is handled as a single chapter of the PMP Exam Prep book (11th ed.).  In preparing for the exam, it is best to look at leadership as an umbrella covering all of the people skills necessary to be an effective project manager.  This is the approach taken by PMI on the exam.

Project Leadership Versus Management

In preparing for the exam, the student needs to understand the distinction between leadership and management.  As noted in the book: “Leadership involves a sophisticated approach to working with people.  We don’t manage people; we get work done through others.”

In some ways this distinction is similar to the one between power and authority described by Richard Neustadt in his book “Presidential Power.”  However, there are important differences, the obvious one is that in the context of the PMP the distinction between leadership and management is entirely business focused.

Like the power versus authority distinction, the management versus leadership distinction looks at formal versus information methods to get team members to perform necessary functions.  Whereas management focuses on things like tasks, control and efficiency, leadership focuses on things like people, empowerment and communication.

Servant Leadership

This style of project leadership is normally associated with agile project management.  In many ways, it is traditional command and control leadership flipped on its head.  Here the project manager is a servant leader.  They ensure that team members can effectively do the work needed to deliver business value.  The focus is to maximize team productivity by removing impediments.

The servant leader makes sure the team stays on track, removes impediments and continually communicates with team members.  If the team needs to increase its budget, the servant leader’s job is to get it.  If they need more people, training or physical resources, the servant leader makes sure they have those.

Project Leadership and Communication

Effective communication is an important project leadership skill. The People Domain and the exam cover many aspects of communication.  PMI covers many aspects of project communication on the exam.  The following are some, but not all of those aspects.

There are basically four types of communication:  Formal written, formal verbal, informal written and informal verbal.  These types of communication have different information densities and are appropriate in different situations.  For example, formal written could be a report to the project sponsor or a project plan while informal verbal could be an unscheduled meeting or casual discussion.  The appropriateness of a particular type of communication will vary depending on the situation.

There are also different methods of communications such as push, interactive or pull.  Interactive is reciprocal between two parties, an exchange of information in real time.  Push is where one party conveys information to another while pull occurs where one party elicits information from another party.

In addition to the types of communication discussed above, the exam extensively covers various modes of communication and tests a student’s knowledge of them on the exam.  These are covered in the leadership chapter of the book.

Emotional Intelligence and Project Leadership

Every human being needs some level of emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ.  People with low levels of EQ often do not function well in jobs where they have to work with other people.  Unlike IQ, EQ can be taught.

EQ is about reading people, seeing changes in their expressions, how they communicate and being able to guage their feelings.  Part of EQ is the ability to “read the room.” Other times it’s knowing when to keep your mouth shut and actually listen to people when they talk. As you can see EQ has a lot in common with communication.  It’s about active listening, reading non-verbal communications and understanding the real reason behind someone’s behavior.

For the exam, EQ is considered part of the “People Domain” and an important aspect of leadership.

Project Leadership and RMC Exam Prep

Leadership is part of the exam. From PMI’s standpoint, there is a lot to it.  It’s not just directive.

If you are considering the taking the PMP, RMC has you covered. From our PMP Exam Prep book to our PMP Exam Prep Live Instructor led classes and our on demand PMP Exam Prep eLearning course, RMC covers the aspects of leadership you will need to know to pass the exam.