Effective project management relies on a healthy foundation of leadership. With so many moving parts and often large numbers of team members with diverse professional backgrounds, strong leadership plays an essential role in moving the workflow in the right direction.
Adding project leaders to your project management team can be the difference-maker in achieving a highly productive and happy work environment.
Though often mistaken for project managers, project leaders hold an essential role within an organization. Much like project management officers and project coordinators' roles, project leaders work in conjunction with project managers to ensure goals are met.
Let’s take a closer look at a project leader's responsibilities, required skills, and salary expectations for 2021 and beyond.
Project Leader Overview
It’s easy to confuse project leaders with project managers. Depending on organizational structure, managers' and leaders' roles and responsibilities may overlap to some extent.
Regardless, there’s a key difference between the two roles. While project managers are focused on the bigger picture — project deadlines, managing schedules, and progress reports — project leaders are on the ground motivating the project’s team.
An expert within their field, a project leader can effectively make plans that support project goals and lead their team to perform efficiently. An exceptional project leader is receptive to the feelings of their team members. They work diligently to keep their team engaged, motivated, and focused on the task at hand.
A successful project manager will inspire their team, encourage creativity, and foster a collaborative work environment to exceed project goals.
Project Leader Roles & Responsibilities
A project leader’s responsibilities will vary based on the company, industry, and even project management role structure. Here are some common responsibilities:
- Work with departmental heads, managers, and other stakeholders to develop team goals and delegate tasks to the appropriate team member
- Develop team schedules and assist in the successful onboarding and training of team members
- Create and communicate a clear list of expectations and goals for team members to follow
- Offer emotional support to project team members and make people feel valued
- Maintain frequent communication to offer encouragement, amend tasks, and provide updates on goal progress
- Implement incentives to keep the team motivated and focused on their daily tasks project goals
- Provide frequent feedback on employee performance, address weaknesses or inefficiencies, and offer support to improve skill gaps
- Nurture collaboration amongst team members
- Create a workspace that encourages creativity and innovation to get the most out of the team
- Quickly and effectively resolve team conflicts
- Write project reports as necessary
- Reward team members for their continued efforts and celebrate accomplishments
Project Leader Skills
A project leader has a unique set of skills that provide the tools needed to lead their team successfully. Required hard skills will be specific to the industry and may include project management platforms, industry knowledge, or relevant licensing.
There are, however, a number of soft skills that help with a project leader’s responsibilities, including the following:
The bulk of a project leader’s responsibilities rely on effectively managing their team. To achieve project goals, leaders must establish a team of individuals with the right skill sets and encourage collaboration. Successful team management involves teamwork, goal setting, and regular performance reviews.
Strong communication is an essential project leader skill. To effectively convey ideas, or direct a team of employees, leaders should promote and facilitate communication.
Project leaders should be focused on actively listening to their team. Understand team members’ concerns and feedback and work to rectify any issues to avoid disruptions to productivity.
When a diverse group of individuals work within close proximity, conflict is often inevitable. However, nothing quite hinders productivity than team friction. Project leaders must swiftly recognize emerging conflicts and work to de-escalate any tension or disputes among team members. A work environment should be harmonious for all team members to thrive.
The position title of project leader is one major indicator that leadership is the most critical skill required for success in the role. Project leaders must work without biases to ensure all team members are treated equally. Leadership requires a combination of conflict resolution, team management, and communication. Set goals that are in line with project requirements and provide the team with the necessary tools to achieve them.
Strong organizational skills are crucial to creating and keeping deadlines, delegating tasks, and making effective schedules for their team.
Finding creative solutions, anticipating potential roadblocks in productivity, and overcoming obstacles are typical challenges faced by project leaders. A good project leader possesses strong critical thinking skills that empower them to achieve success no matter the situation.
Although primarily focused on leading their teams, there are still deadlines that project leaders must ensure are met. These professionals must understand the capabilities and skill levels of the team and strong time management skills to ensure all tasks are completed efficiently.
Project Leader Salary
A project leader salary can range from $49,000 to $120,000 annually with an average annual salary of $81,756.
In addition to the salary, additional compensation may include annual bonuses and options for profit sharing. Common health benefits may include medical, dental, and vision.
Are you a professional who is aspiring to be a Project Manager? Then check-out our PMP® Certification course curriculum now!
Train to Become a Project Leader Today
Become a digital-age project leader with Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Project Management in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Created in alignment with the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, you’ll learn the frameworks, tools, and skills to drive transformative projects.
The course focuses on quality and risk management, delivering the best results, understanding strategy, and implementing best practices in any project.