6 Project Management Leadership Styles (Plus Tips)

Project team abilities for guiding, inspiring, and directing are among the leadership skills needed to manage and direct a team. These skills include particular abilities like conflict resolution, resiliency, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. Project management places a natural emphasis on dealing with people in a complex way because people are the focus of all projects. When interacting with all project stakeholders, especially the project team, a project manager must exercise leadership.

For anyone to be viewed by the project team as a great leader, they must put into practice the qualities and abilities mentioned above. A project manager must employ a variety of abilities, traits, and leadership philosophies in order to excel as a leader. For particular project circumstances, various combinations of skills, qualities, and styles are most effective. Project managers are responsible for determining which combination will be most effective in any given circumstance. In order to inspire, involve, and secure commitment to a project, leadership styles should be employed.

The laissez-faire leadership approach may be advantageous in organizations that value creativity and innovation. But if the team lacks experience, it could also have a negative impact on a project by lowering the likelihood of project success. This approach might lead a novice team to believe the project manager is careless and uninterested.

This leadership approach emphasizes clear objectives, constructive criticism, and ways to reward the team. If the team deviates from the established goals, this leader will correct them. Project rules, processes, and procedures will be strictly followed by a project manager who employs this leadership style. To bring the team back in line with the established project values, he will discipline them using systems of rewards and penalties.

This leadership style prioritizes the teams interests over personal interests. This kind of project manager puts the project team’s needs first by clearing obstacles from the way so they can succeed in their objectives. This approach focuses on developing a cooperative team culture, building strong interpersonal bonds with the team, and enabling the team to advance professionally by providing opportunities for ongoing learning.

This management approach focuses on motivating team members to achieve ideal outcomes and promotes constructive change within the project environment. This project manager’s approach promotes originality, creativity, and respect for each person. Inspiration is his ultimate focus. He will motivate the group with a mission and vision for the team’s upcoming objectives.

In that inspiration is the primary focus, the transformational leadership style resembles the charismatic style. In contrast to the charismatic style, the organizational mission and vision will be the focus of motivation rather than a person’s personality. Using this approach will result in a team that is proactive, enthusiastic, innovative, and dedicated and works well without constant supervision.

Leadership Styles in Project Management | Types of Leadership Styles

Why is project management leadership important?

Because motivated teams work more effectively to accomplish project goals, project management leadership is crucial. An environment that fosters performance and success is facilitated by effective project management leadership. A project manager inspires their team by making wise decisions about project management, such as designing team roles to make the most of each member’s skills and setting clear, doable goals for the duration of the project. Project managers can improve their leadership abilities by establishing rapport with team members, engaging in appropriate communication, remaining adaptable, and demonstrating dependability.

What is project management?

Team leaders use methods, techniques, knowledge, skills, and experience to accomplish goals within the confines of a project as part of project management. To achieve specific goals, it entails managing a project’s resources, such as its budget, schedule, and personnel. Effective project managers make the best use of a project’s resources to accomplish all of its goals, including meeting deadlines, keeping costs in check, and meeting quality standards.

6 project management leadership styles

You may be able to select the leadership style best suited for your team and project by being aware of the various project management leadership styles and knowing how to use them effectively. Here are six different project management leadership philosophies, along with illustrations of how to use each one:

1. Visionary

This leadership approach outlines the goals for a group and a project. It creates a shared vision that all project participants can recognize and work toward, which inspires the team. Team members may be more motivated to use their unique skills when they can see how their work directly contributes to the success of the project they are working on. This approach works best once the team has formed a solid bond.

When a project manager frequently discusses project goals with their team, this leadership style performs best. This leadership style, for instance, might be used by a project manager to welcome a new team member to a project. The project manager explains the project’s vision and asks the new team member to consider how their abilities can help the project reach its goals. Because team members are more likely to engage with this style when they trust their team leader and feel involved in determining a project’s vision, visionary leaders frequently work to establish and maintain their credibility.

2. Affiliative

The affiliative leadership style aids team members in forging fruitful bonds with one another. By placing emphasis on each person’s emotional needs, it fosters team cohesion. This leadership approach fosters a culture of support and positivity within the team by putting an emphasis on individual needs and constructive criticism. This leadership style is effective for:

Additionally, it can facilitate team member communication and foster positive working relationships. This type of leadership focuses on praising others and using team-building exercises. Before beginning a project, the team’s leader might, for instance, have a meeting where everyone introduces themselves and gets to know one another.

Although this leadership approach can be a great way to boost team morale and support them through difficult situations at work, it might be less successful in dealing with issues with performance. When a leader offers their team constructive criticism or lays out clear expectations, this approach might not be as effective as it could be.

3. Participative or democratic

A democratic or participatory leadership approach solicits team input and feedback on decisions. This leadership style values group discussions, collaboration and teamwork. It encourages team members to feel energised and empowered at work because it values their opinions and contributions. An environment that fosters creativity may be a workplace where democratic leadership is effective. When participants in a creative project feel some sense of ownership over the final product, they might be more inclined to contribute.

However, the democratic or participatory approach might not always be successful. Because it may take some time for team members to come to a consensus, this leadership style may be less effective than others. Additionally, it might not work as well with teams that are still developing. Teams that have not yet completed their training may lack the expertise or knowledge necessary to decide on the objectives and course of a project.

4. Coaching

To encourage long-term professional growth and development, the coaching leadership style focuses on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. This leadership approach takes into account people’s motivations and interests when establishing goals for their professional development. It makes investments in team members’ development to enable individuals to perform at their best. Employing a coaching leadership style encourages people to develop their skills and perform to higher standards. Leaders encourage team members to develop their skills or learn new ones by giving them challenging tasks.

When followers seek out professional development, this leadership style is most effective. People are more likely to respond well to coaching when they accept or seek feedback and feel motivated at work. For people who are less receptive to feedback or for tasks with tight deadlines, a coaching leadership style may be less effective. Compared to other leadership styles, the coaching style may take longer to produce results.

5. Pacesetter

A pacesetter leadership approach encourages high performance with an emphasis on accomplishment and effectiveness. This type of leadership holds the team accountable for achieving goals. To make up for lapses in their team’s performance, they may also step in or give themselves more work. With teams that are highly competent, motivated, and thrive in fast-paced environments, this approach might be effective. Additionally, this approach has high standards and pushes team members to effectively complete projects.

When team morale is low or members need feedback, mentoring, or development, a pacesetter leadership style may, however, be less effective. Therefore, this approach might be best suited for established teams with members who are at ease in their particular roles.

6. Directive or autocratic

Additionally, some project managers might have an autocratic or directive management style. This leadership style allows a leader to give clear instructions and make decisions either by themselves or with a small group of other leaders. These leaders use direct communication, constructive criticism, and clearly stated expectations to assist their teams in achieving project objectives. When a project’s stakes are high, this leadership approach frequently produces the best results. These situations may include:

For the military to successfully complete mission objectives that potentially involve danger or sensitive information, directive leadership is crucial. When training new team members who require definite, detailed feedback on their work, a directive leadership style may also be effective.

For projects where teamwork and collaboration are essential for setting objectives, creating plans, and making decisions, a directive or autocratic leadership style may be less effective. Some teams function better under a leadership style that gives them more autonomy over how they complete their tasks. A directive leadership style may lower motivation and employee ownership of objectives and tasks for teams that are self-motivated, skilled, and need less supervision.

Tips for being a better project management leader

The following advice will help you develop your project management leadership abilities:

Build relationships with team members

Your team is your most important resource as a project manager for achieving project objectives. Understanding each team member’s goals, interests, aptitudes, and working styles can help you maximize their productivity and performance.

Set measurable goals

Consider establishing more manageable objectives to monitor your progress after outlining the project’s main objectives. These objectives may assist you in breaking down more difficult goals into more manageable ones.

Evaluate progress

Make sure to routinely assess your team’s progress as they work to meet project goals. It may be possible for you to change your strategy to make sure that your team meets its goals in a timely manner by paying close attention to your team’s performance and identifying any strengths or weaknesses.

Prioritize communication

Maintaining open lines of communication with your team is crucial for a fruitful and positive work environment. Good communication techniques include hearing what others have to say, acting on it, and giving performance reviews that help your team members recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

Be flexible

Finally, be adaptable and modify your leadership style to meet the unique needs of your team. Knowing the various leadership stances you can take may help you decide which is best for achieving the goals of your project.


What are the 4 types of leadership styles?

Types of Leadership Styles
  • Autocratic.
  • Democratic.
  • Laissez-faire.
  • Transformational.

What are project manager leadership styles?

Project managers should rely more on the visionary and participative leadership styles to get the best results in more circumstances. Surveys of the project management community reveal that many project managers most frequently use the directive leadership style.

What are the 7 leadership styles?

There are seven common leadership styles in management, each of which has its place in a leader’s toolkit:
  • Autocratic Leadership.
  • Pacesetting Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.
  • Coaching Leadership.
  • Democratic Leadership.
  • Affiliative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.

What 4 leadership skills should a project manager possess?

Leadership Skills for Project Managers
  • Motivating and inspiring. Leaders create a vision and then communicate it frequently across the company, working with the team to realize the vision.
  • Team building. …
  • Negotiating and communicating. …
  • Listening and influencing.

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