Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Leadership Tips for a Project Manager

Being a successful project manager depends not only on what you do, but also on how you do it. Your attitudes and behaviors toward people affect how they respond to that person. The following tips here can help you become a better leader.


  • Tell your team what you want, not how to do it. You will find your team more responsive and less defensive if you can give them guidance, not instructions. You will also see more initiative, more innovation, and more of an ownership attitude from them develop over time.
  • Don't DO Anything. Your job as a project manager is to "plan, organize, control and direct." Do not waste valuable time by falling back on what you did before you became a manager. You may enjoy it, and you are good at it. That is why you were promoted to project manager. Now you need to concentrate your efforts on managing, not on "doing".
  • Get out of your desk. Management By Walking Around (MBWA) does work. You make yourself more approachable. You get information first-hand, and you will find out what's really happening.
  • Set  S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Goals you set for yourself, or others, should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  • Set an example. "One of the most significant parts of a project manager’s job is for them to become a positive role model that can pull a team together and deliver the level of service expected from their stakeholders and beneficiaries."
  • Actively listen. Listen to your stakeholders, beneficiaries, your team, your suppliers, and anyone else who is involved with your project. Honestly evaluate what they have to say, and you will probably learn something that benefits your project.
  • Leaders create change. If you lead, you will cause changes. Be prepared for them and their impact on people within, and outside, your group. If you are not making changes, you are not leading.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.
  • Fix the problem, not the blame. It is far more productive, and less expensive, to figure out what to do to fix a problem that has come up than it is to waste time trying to decide whose fault it was.
  • Get your people involved. It's a lot easier to get your team to stand behind a management  decision if they have the opportunity to participate in the discussion. Management still has to make the decision, but if they have had the opportunity to make their point of view known, the team is more apt to stand behind the decision.

Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course Leadership Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs.

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What is Process Management?

Process management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques and systems to define, visualize, measure, control, report and improve processes with the goal to meet a goal. In project management, process management is the use of a repeatable process to improve the outcome of the project.  

Process management is a method to manage the project by breaking it down into its key elements. Process management allows for a structured and systematic and cyclical approach to plan, do, check and adapt all project work. A process is a set of actions or activities that must be performed in order to achieve results. For example, managing information in a project can be seen as a process; and in that process the project manager will identify all the activities, roles, responsibilities, and techniques required to achieve a result in the most effective manner.
Before the project implementation starts, the project manager must ensure that the work is defined in terms of the overall objectives, deliverables, scope, assumptions, risks, organization, etc.; and that a schedule is prepared that shows how to will deliver the work. Once the project starts, the project manager must successfully manage and control the work, including:
Proactively managing scope to ensure that only what was agreed to be delivered
Tracking the project schedule and monitoring delays
Managing the project budget and costs
Ensuring that the work or services delivered are of acceptable quality
Developing the competencies and skills of the project team
Proactively disseminating project information
Building relationships with stakeholders
Identifying, managing and mitigating project risks
Managing the project contracts.
Each process describes the steps to identify, assign, verify, and adapt the project work more effectively to ensure the project is successful in delivering its intended results. To manage the project management processes, a project manager should be well organized, have great follow-up skills, be process oriented, be able to multitask, have a logical thought process, be able to determine the root causes of problems, and have good analytical skills.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”   W. Edwards Deming


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