Leading a project team is a fundamental aspect of preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. This certification primarily focuses on understanding and demonstrating the principles and practices of leading and directing project teams. It also emphasizes the value of delivering business results, including completing projects on time, within budget, and meeting specific goals.

Table of Contents

1. Essentials of Team Leadership in Project Management

Leading a team entails more than simply assigning tasks. It involves repeatedly motivating team members to attain the project objective and cultivating the team’s efficiency and cohesion.

Setting Clear Goals and Objectives

Every project’s journey starts with defining clear, achievable goals and objectives. It is a leader’s responsibility to ensure that the whole team understands these goals. The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) criteria can be used for setting effective goals.

Effective Communication

Communication is crucial for leading a project team. The project leader must ensure that information flows smoothly among all stakeholders. The primary focus should be two-way communication, offering feedback, and addressing any issues with project tasks.


Every team member should feel encouraged and motivated to perform at their best. As a project leader, you need to implement strategies that keep all team members motivated, such as rewards and recognitions.

Managing Conflicts

Conflicts within the team can seriously impact project progress and productivity. Being a leader, it’s essential to identify and address conflicts as early as possible.

2. Leadership Styles in Project Management

There are primarily five leadership styles that you may choose from or switch between, according to the scenario:

  • Autocratic: Leader makes decisions without consulting others. Ideal for crisis management or when decisions need to be made quickly.
  • Democratic: Decisions are made collectively. Increases the sense of team ownership and commitment.
  • Laissez-Faire: Leader gives team full autonomy. Can lead to high creativity, but may risk lack of direction or cohesion.
  • Transformational: Leader inspires and motivates the team towards a collective vision. Ideal for nurturing innovation and change.
  • Servant: Leader prioritizes the needs of the team. This approach is ideal for fostering a high degree of collaboration and team autonomy.


Consider you are managing an innovative project comprising a highly competent and motivated team that you trust to carry the project to completion successfully. Here, a Transformational or Servant leadership style may be ideal.

Leadership Style Situation Advantages Disadvantages
Transformational Highly competent and motivated team Nurtures innovation, motivates the team The leader must be highly experienced
Servant Trusted team and collaborative environment Boosts collaboration and team autonomy The leader must be prepared to set aside their personal interests

3. Leadership Role in Different Project Management Methodologies

Understanding how leadership roles change in different project management approaches is necessary.

  • Waterfall: Characterized by a high degree of planning and control. The project lead clearly defines the tasks, deadlines, and roles for everyone on the team.
  • Agile: With its emphasis on flexibility and collaboration, the project leader is the facilitator who empowers team members to self-organize and make decisions.

Leadership in project management is an intensive skill that requires effort and practice. Aspiring PMPs should focus on continuous learning and improving leadership capabilities to excel in the role. Remember, leadership is not solely about the leader, but about the relationship between the leader and the team and the team’s collective mission.

Practice Test

True/False: A project manager should always have a technical understanding of the project for him/her to manage the team effectively.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: While a technical background may be beneficial, it’s not always necessary. Project managers are primarily responsible for managing resources, time, budget, and scope, and for effective communication among stakeholders.

Multiple Select: Which of the following are considered essential skills for a team lead in project management?

  • A) Communication skills
  • B) Financial management
  • C) Conflict resolution
  • D) Marketing skills

Answer: A, B, C.

Explanation: Effective communication, financial management and conflict resolution are crucial in leading a team successfully. While marketing skills can be beneficial, they are not always essential in project management.

Single Select: What is the most important role of a project manager when leading a team?

  • A) Performing technical tasks
  • B) Managing budget
  • C) Communicating effectively
  • D) Organizing parties

Answer: C. Communicating effectively.

Explanation: A project manager should focus on getting everyone on the same page, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goal, and that all uncertainties and risks are addressed.

True/False: In team leadership, providing negative feedback is always discouraging for team members.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: Constructive criticism is important for individual and overall team development. Negative feedback, if provided correctly and constructively, can lead to improvements and better results.

Single Select: Who should set the short-term and long-term goals for a project team?

  • A) Team members
  • B) Project manager
  • C) Stakeholders
  • D) All of the above

Answer: B. Project manager.

Explanation: The project manager should set the goals for a project team. Even though goals may also be influenced by stakeholders’ needs and team members’ tasks, they must be set and communicated officially by the leader.

True/False: As a project manager, you should regularly seek feedback from your team members.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: Regular feedback from team members can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement or adjustments that may need to be made in the project.

Single Select: What is the ultimate goal when leading a project team?

  • A) Complete the project under budget
  • B) Deliver the project on time
  • C) Ensure every team member is always happy
  • D) Achieve project objectives while ensuring team performance and satisfaction

Answer: D. Achieve project objectives while ensuring team performance and satisfaction

Explanation: Satisfaction of team members and ensuring their performance is as important as delivering the project on time and budget.

Multiple Select: What are the key elements of effective team leadership in project management?

  • A) Commanding authority
  • B) Motivating the team
  • C) Communicating effectively
  • D) Acting as a servant leader

Answer: B, C, D.

Explanation: Successful team leadership in project management includes motivating the team, facilitating effective communication, and acting as a servant leader to support the team, rather than using command authority.

True/False: A good team leader in a project must ensure that decisions are made democratically in the team.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: Adopting a democratic decision-making approach fosters inclusion and participation, thus improving team dynamics and collaboration.

Multiple Select: To ensure successful team leadership in a project, the project manager needs to manage:

  • A) Time
  • B) Scope
  • C) Cost
  • D) Quality

Answer: A, B, C, D.

Explanation: All these factors are constitutive elements of project management triangle and are crucial for a project’s success.

True/False: Micromanagement is an effective leadership style in project management.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: Micromanagement can negatively affect team morale and creativity. It is more beneficial to provide guidance and support instead of controlling every detail.

Single Select: According to the PMBOK, a project team leader is responsible for:

  • A) Technical work
  • B) Providing resources
  • C) Project results
  • D) Scheduling

Answer: C. Project results.

Explanation: While the project manager has many responsibilities, they are ultimately accountable for the project’s final results.

True/False: The project manager should always divide tasks evenly among team members, regardless of their skills and abilities.

  • True
  • False

Answer: False.

Explanation: While fairness is key, task assignment should also take into consideration the specific abilities and skills of team members to ensure efficiency and high-quality results.

Single Select: The most important characteristic of an effective project manager is:

  • A) Being the most experienced team member
  • B) Having the most technical knowledge
  • C) Being the best at managing budget
  • D) The ability to influence and lead the team towards successful project completion

Answer: D. The ability to influence and lead the team towards successful project completion.

Explanation: While other skills are important, the ability to motivate and lead the team towards achieving project goals is most crucial for the project manager.

True/False: As a project manager, your primary role is to ensure the project meets the client’s requirements.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True.

Explanation: Client satisfaction is paramount in project management. To achieve this, the project should ideally meet all stated requirements within the defined scope, time, and cost.

Interview Questions

In the context of project management, what does a project team leader do?

A project team leader is responsible for providing direction, guidance, and leadership to a project team to meet project objectives. This involves planning, organizing, monitoring, and controlling project activities.

What is the key role of a team leader in risk management?

A team leader plays a crucial role in risk management by identifying potential risks, evaluating their impact, ensuring appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate them, and continuously monitoring and controlling risks throughout the project.

What are the four stages of Bruce Tuckman’s team development model?

The four stages are: Forming (team members get to know each other), Storming (the resolution of initial conflicts), Norming (team members start to cooperate and reach consensus), and Performing (the team works in a coordinated and efficient manner).

What are the key competencies a project team leader should possess?

A project team leader should possess competencies like strong communication skills, problem-solving skills, ability to motivate a team, leadership skills, strategic thinking, and sound knowledge of project management principles and methods.

Why is the role of a project leader important in the procurement process?

The project leader plays a key role in the procurement process as they help define procurement requirements, coordinate with suppliers, ensure that procured items meet project needs, and manage procurement risks.

How does a project team leader promote accountability within their team?

A project team leader promotes accountability by setting clear expectations, tracking performance, giving feedback, ensuring that responsibilities are evenly distributed, and holding individuals accountable for their actions.

What is the purpose of creating a Team Charter?

A Team Charter is a document that outlines the project objectives, identifies all stakeholders, defines roles and responsibilities, sets rules for team interaction, and describes procedures for managing team meetings. This promotes clarity, transparency and aids in team collaboration.

How would a team leader manage a team member who consistently fails to meet deadlines?

A team leader should first communicate with the team member to understand the issues and challenges leading to missed deadlines. They might need to provide more support, training, or potentially reallocate the task if necessary. It’s crucial to maintain open and constructive communication throughout.

What is the importance of establishing an open communication environment within a project team?

An open communication environment promotes transparency, encourages team members to share ideas, eliminate misunderstandings, facilitates decision-making, and helps to quickly identify and address any issues.

How can a project team leader motivate a project team?

A project team leader can motivate a team by setting clear goals, providing support and resources, recognizing and rewarding achievements, involving team members in decision-se making, and fostering a positive and supportive work environment.

How can a project leader manage conflicts within a project team?

Project leaders manage conflicts by actively listening to all sides, promoting open and healthy discussions, using problem-solving techniques to find a resolution, and creating an environment that discourages negative comportment while stressing the importance of teamwork.

How should a project team leader balance the competing demands of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risk on a project?

By employing the project management triple constraint theory, a team leader can effectively prioritize and make trade-offs among project constraints like cost, time, and scope, without compromising on quality. This involves extensive planning, risk analysis, communication, and control.

Can a project manager delegate their leadership roles?

While a project manager can delegate tasks to streamline workload, they should maintain control over key leadership roles such as decision making, planning, and risk management to ensure the project stays aligned with its objectives.

How does a project leader contribute to the project’s quality management?

A project leader contributes to quality management by setting quality targets, integrating quality management into all project processes, carrying out quality assurance activities, continuously controlling and monitoring quality, and promoting a quality-focused culture within the project team.

What is the role of a team leader in stakeholder management?

A team leader plays an essential role in stakeholder management by identifying key stakeholders, analyzing their needs and expectations, developing a stakeholder engagement plan, and managing communications between the project team and stakeholders.

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