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The Project Leader is responsible for ensuring the project team executes the project. On small projects, the project leader often is also a team member with responsibility for executing several project tasks. On large projects, the project leader role is often a full-time position and the leader focuses their time on project planning, issue/risk resolution, and project communication.
When to use
All projects should have someone who is responsible for ensuring the project team executes the project. On very small projects there may not be a project team – everything is done by one person. In that case the individual assigned to the project is the project leader. Whenever there are multiple people conducting project activities, someone should be designated as the project leader. The individual filling the role of project leader can change as a project transitions from one phase to another.
- When a project is approved, management should appoint a project leader whose role initially is to complete/update the Project Charter.
- The Project Leader coordinates the planning activities of all team members and ensures an integrated project plan is created. This includes any replanning due to project changes.
- The Project Leader should also lead the risk management process during the planning and execution phases of the project. Although all team members are responsible for identifying risk and developing risk response plans, the project leader coordinates and directs the activities.
- The Project Leader is the primary focal point for all project communication during the planning and execution phases of the project. This includes both communication within the project team and communication with project stakeholders who are not team members.
- The Project Leader tracks project status to ensure project tasks are being completed in accordance with the project plan and appropriately reports that status.
- The Project Leader either leads or delegates to the appropriate individual on the project team the responsibility for leading project issue resolution.
- Outstanding project leaders lead from three pillars of strength. They have technical authority in a relevant aspect of the project, they have positional authority based upon their organizational level and network, and they have personal authority based upon how they interact with team members and peers.
Hints & tips
- Projects Leaders are most successful if they have technical competence in an area of project activity, a network of relationships in the organization, and the respect of their peers.
- Everything a Project Leader does can be boiled down to one of two categories of activities, risk management and communication management.
- Project Manager Definition: “The person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives.” PMBOK® Guide.
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017.
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PMI, PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.