When we talk about project leadership or team leadership, everyone has a unique approach and style. You develop a certain project management style based on your personality, experiences, and company culture. After 25+ years as project management consultants, we have broadly grouped project management styles into seven different categories.
- What are the 7 different project management styles?
- How do you know what your default project management style is?
- Is your default project management style what your medical device project needs from you?
- What do you do if one of your team members or a boss doesn’t like your project management style?
Let’s find out.
When it comes to leading medical device projects, there are 7 different project management styles.
1. The Autocratic Project Management Style
Medical device project managers with an autocratic style of leadership tend to make all the decisions by themselves. When a project is in crisis and decisions need to be made quickly, an experienced project manager can successfully employ this leadership style to benefit the project. This saves time, establishes a clear chain of command, and helps clarify the vision for the team. It can also be useful in new teams where the team members lack the knowledge or impetus to give input.
This leadership style might not work for all projects. For example, not considering team members’ opinions while planning or implementing the project can lead to reduced creativity, dissatisfaction among team members, and a lack of synergy. In the long term, this can cause the project to suffer.
2. The Cheerleader
Project managers who are cheerleaders always encourage their team members to do the best they can, be the best they can. Highly enthusiastic about their work and that of others, cheerleaders do well in companies that don’t have a great work environment. When balanced out with other project management styles, the cheerleading leadership style is great at creating a supportive work environment and good for team morale.
3. The Collaborative Project Management Style
Project managers and leaders who are more collaborative, share all the necessary information with their team and involve them in the decision-making process. While it can be time-consuming if a consensus can’t be reached, collaborative project managers try to consider everyone’s input and choose the one that moves the project forward.
They are also not afraid of being authoritative if a situation requires it. Until then they’re nicely persistent and get the job done while ensuring everyone’s voices are heard. This project management style fosters team spirit, creativity, and innovation without compromising the integrity of the project.
4. The Driver
They constantly push their team members to get things done. While effective in driving team members to get results fast, it may result in burnout and resentment among the team members if continued over a sustained period. But if your team members are like-minded, with the same drive as you – go for it. This management style is great when working on an innovative project everyone is excited about.
5. The Supportive Project Management Style
A supportive leader has a ‘people first’ approach’ and tries to get their teams’ needs met. As a project manager, they keep the communication lines open. These leaders tend to achieve higher levels of respect. They may have a hard time being authoritative when the time comes. But are excellent at finding what a team member needs to get the job done and move the project forward by getting it done.
6. The Coach
The project manager with a coaching leadership style offers guidance instead of giving commands. They challenge team members to grow and improve. While a little time-consuming, it fosters confidence, creates new skills, and encourages independent thinking.
Waddell Group believes it’s important to match the right medical device project manager with the right team and project. We can’t throw an autocrat into a project where people are completely demoralized. That may not work as well as a cheerleader might.
The key to ensuring that your project management style is just what your medical device project needs
What happens if you find yourself in a project or situation where your style doesnt match?
Being a good leader is about taking stock of the situation and figuring out what will work the best in that situation. That doesn’t mean you mimic one particular project management style. Instead, a wise leader knows to identify and play to their strengths when managing a medical device project. It means developing new skills if needed. Which brings us to the final leadership style.
7. The Chameleon
We all have pieces of different leadership and project management styles in us. It’s up to us to identify what aspects of our skills and personalities will be useful for a particular project and use them. Just like a chameleon, a good leader will see what’s sound at the moment for the medical device project and adapt.
When one of our project managers had a difficult team member who wasn’t very social, here is how they handled it, as a chameleon.
A project involved getting information from a technical person who wasn’t very social. After a week of hunting, I found him in his office which was in the bowels of the company and known to very few people. When I started talking to him about how the project needed to go, he just looked at me and asked, “are you one of the guys who’s nice to me because you need something from me or are you gonna be a jerk and just come down here and demand it?” I looked at him and smiled and said, “Which one would you prefer?” And he started laughing and asked how can I help. That simply, I broke the ice. I saw what was useful within the moment and ensured that the guy knew he was appreciated and needed. And some humor never hurts. –Tom Waddell
So how do you know what your project management style is?
Step one is understanding the different leadership styles. Which, if you’ve read this blog post so far, you already do.
- What style are you most comfortable with?
- What do you resonate with the most after reading the above?
If needed, talk to a trusted colleague and ask them to describe your strengths and weaknesses. Observe how people relate to you.
- Do they come to you with new ideas and inputs or blindly follow what you say?
- Do they talk to you about their problems and emotions?
- Are they comfortable or awkward around you?
- Do they seem interested in what you have to say?
What if one of your team members or a boss doesn’t like your project management style?
Communication works for everything. They need to make sure they communicate with you.
All these project management styles work for the most part. Some people on the project team like one vs. the other – and if you ask people generally will tell you. It doesn’t mean you have to change your style. It simply means you have to be more careful with that person than the rest. And if your style occasionally annoys that person? So be it. Especially if it’s good for the rest of the team.
A project manager needs to transition across roles and project management styles as needed seamlessly. They need to be the captain, manager, and cheerleader of their team depending upon the situation at hand. Making sure that the project is a collaborative effort and not just a transactional one.
Need a project management consultant to do just that for you? Get in touch!