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7 Principles of Project Leadership

rainbow block pattern

Principles serve as guideposts or beacons that help you stay on course with your project. Let’s review seven principles of project leadership.


Principle #1

People Own What They Participate in Creating

When team members work together to create a project plan and then monitor and control the project, they take ownership not only of their own work but also for the project as a whole.

Some projects leaders fear losing control of the project if the team participates. Actually, the opposite is true—the project is under more control because teams make better decisions and are more committed to carrying them out

Principle #2

People Are Inspired by What Is Meaningful to Them

To make a project meaningful to the team, you need to connect the project to the strategic goals of the organization. When people on a team understand the project—why it’s being done, what they are supposed to do, how what they do affects others and fits into the whole picture—they are more effective as individuals and more effective as a team.

Principle #3

Team Members That Understand How the Parts of a Project Fit Together Are More Committed to Making the Project Successful

It’s important for everyone to understand the interdependencies in the project and to see how their pieces are essential to getting the whole project completed successfully. Create the schedule on banner paper with sticky notes with the team. That way they’ll understand how their pieces fit into the big picture.

7 Keys to Project Portfolio Success

Principle #4

Team Buy-In Is Increased If Team Members Work from Shared Information

Use visual, team-based tools to guide the project leadership process so that everyone sees the same information presented. Record ideas and decisions on flipchart paper. Use sticky notes for recording ideas. Team-based tools provide a structured way for everyone on the team to contribute and to reach consensus on a decision or solution.

Principle #5

Show Your Appreciation for the Contributions of Each Individual on the Team and for the Team as a Whole

People are more motivated to perform when they feel valued. When teams are valued, they also perform better. Not everyone on a team will feel valued in the same way. However, there are some standard ways in which to value people and teams.

Take time at each team meeting to recognize accomplishments and thank people for their contributions. Periodically solicit their feedback on how you can improve. In addition, when significant accomplishments are achieved, take time for a small celebration.

As important as recognition and celebration are, it’s equally important for the team to feel you’re on their side and if they take a risk, that you’ll support them. If you want a motivated team, remove obstacles and provide a shield that minimizes outside interference.

Principle #6

To Build a Team You Must Build and Maintain an Environment of Mutual Trust and Respect

Trust takes time to build. Tips for building trust include:

Although trust is built slowly, it can be destroyed in an instant, and when it has been destroyed, rebuilding trust takes a very long time.

Principle #7

Empower the Team

Try these tips for empowering the team:

Try applying these seven basic principles and see if they can make you a more effective leader.

Want More?

Check out our project leadership training offerings

Paula Martin

Paula Martin is a Master Level Certified Matrix Management Consultant™ (CMMC™—MOL), and the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the Matrix Management Institute. She is the developer of the MM 2.0™ Operating System, and the author of the Matrix Management 2.0™ Body of Knowledge, the Matrix Management Reinvented book series, and more than 10 other books on topics related to Matrix Management and Managing Projects in a Matrix.