The Challenges of Leading and Managing Projects

When it comes to leadership and management, many think in terms of leading or managing a function.  While this is definitely a large part of the role, you will from time to time find that you have responsibility for leading and managing projects.


A project can be defined as anything where there is a specific outcome to be delivered.  Usually by a defined time and within a stated budget.  While many of the principles of leading and managing a function, there are some specific challenges of leading and managing projects.  These include some or all of the following.


Challenge 1: It Can Be Unchartered Territory


Most will say that there is very little in business that is completely new.  To an extent this is true.  At the same time you might be venturing into new or unchartered territory.  This is particularly true if you find you are leading or managing something outside of your area of professional expertise.


Challenge 2: Handling The Multiple Expectations


Most who get involved in projects are fairly senior.  As a result they have high expectations, high demands and plenty to say.  It can often be challenging and even daunting trying to handle those multiple expectations.


Challenge 3: Dealing Well With Communications


You will have to get your message across in person, in print, to small groups, to large groups all with very different agendas.  And you also need to be a great listener.  It’s a tall order and one that needs your constant attention.


Challenge 4: Working Out All The Impacts


It is easy to underestimate the impact on one part of something that happens elsewhere.  The theory of sitting down and identifying all the connections is not complex.  Like a lot of things there is often a big difference between the theory and what actually is required in practice.


Challenge 5: Getting People To Collaborate


Most people get that if people collaborate, more is achieved.  Yet if you think about it for large parts of our life and career we are recognised and rewarded for what we do individually.  Collaborating takes a big shift in attitudes and a willingness to trust others.


Challenge 6: Estimating and Forecasting


This is always tougher than it seems.  You have to work out how long things are going to take, the sequence in which things should be done, the resources required amongst other things.  There is also the challenge of forecasting costs.  I can recall one project I was involved in where the price of steel rose significantly.  As there was a lot of building work during the project this placed huge demands in terms of forecasting the likely costs.


Challenge 7: The Benefit Of Hindsight


Ever noticed how once something has gone wrong and it hits the media, half the world seems to the expert on the project that you have just been leading or managing.  Hindsight is great and we can all learn from things that did not go so well.  At the same time we all know that most of the time decisions are taken and choices made based on the best available information available at that point.


Duncan Brodie helps accountants and other professionals to develop their leadership and management capability.  Learn more here.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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