Successful project management? Leadership is required

Tianyu WANG
3 min readMay 28, 2023

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Software development projects are often filled with challenges, and these challenges are not due to a lack of project management knowledge but rather the inherent characteristics of the industry.

Software development projects are complex due to the involvement of multiple components, modules, and technologies, which require managing dependencies and interactions. Changes in requirements and technologies during the development process create uncertainty, requiring project managers to adapt and adjust plans. Time constraints are common in software projects due to market demands, necessitating efficient time management, and task scheduling for timely completion. Ensuring high-quality software that meets customer expectations is a significant challenge in project management. Effective communication and coordination among team members, clients, and stakeholders are crucial for successful software development projects.

Managing strategic development projects, particularly in SaaS companies, can be inherently challenging. Therefore, effective leadership is crucial for achieving success in these endeavors.

Leadership should be inherent to every project manager. While it’s evident that project managers play a pivotal role in leading the team, especially during challenging times, it is important to recognize that leadership extends beyond just managing processes and defining KPIs. A project manager should possess a clear vision and direction, in case it wasn’t provided initially. Their ability to inspire and influence the team is crucial for progress. In difficult decision-making situations, the project manager should step up and take action. Demonstrating empathy towards the team and having emotional intelligence can greatly enhance a project manager’s leadership skills. Project managers act as the driving force behind the project, the shield of the team, and the eyes and ears of stakeholders.

Project management is not solely the responsibility of project managers. It is a collaborative effort that involves the entire team. The leadership doesn’t only come from project managers either.

Inside a project team, technical or functional issues can arise unexpectedly, often resulting in delayed delivery dates. In such situations, the project manager may be held responsible for not adequately anticipating the risks, which can demotivate the team. Instead of allowing the project to be delayed, a team member can take the initiative to address the risk, searching for a solution on behalf of the team. This person can motivate the team to keep pushing forward, regardless of their managerial position. It is a display of team spirit and leadership. Without individuals showing exceptional commitment, the project cannot achieve success. It’s important to note that leaders within the project team are often not rewarded with additional compensation for their efforts. Therefore, project managers should not forget to express gratitude and appreciation to these individuals when the project is completed.

Outside the team, sponsors are usually identified prior to the project kick-off. They fulfill the role of individuals or groups responsible for initiating and funding a project. Their contribution is crucial in ensuring project success through the provision of necessary resources, support, and guidance. Sponsors should not merely act as resource managers who remain detached from the project, waiting for its delivery. They should embrace a leadership role. How? Let’s imagine a situation where a project conflicts with another project for resources. In such cases, the project manager relies on sponsors to support mediating scope disputes and potentially finding additional team members. Additionally, a good sponsor is always accessible to provide advice and willingly challenges both the project manager and the team by identifying risks.

Leadership is not confined to a single person, it is a collaborative effort that drives successful project delivery.

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Tianyu WANG
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I am dedicated to empowering my teams, fostering efficiency and collaboration, and yielding more successful stories.