What is project team management and leadership?


A project team is a group of people working together in collaboration or cooperation towards a common goal. Some teams are co-­located in the same geographic area; some span multiple organisations and virtual team-working is increasingly prevalent.

In each case, the ability of the project professional to develop and lead teams is of vital importance.

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition  📖

Teams and leaders

For teams to be effective it is important that team members are understood as individuals in terms of their capabilities, their preferences, their cultural norms and expectations as well as the social dynamics between team members. Teams are increasingly international, with individuals who bring diverse skill-sets and perspectives, and can be located across countries and continents. National cultures are influential in shaping behaviours in project-based working. The project professional has an opportunity to improve outcomes by harnessing diversity and inclusion from the people available.

Leaders need to adapt their style and approach to the needs of the team and the work that needs to be accomplished, this is called situational leadership. Leadership is the ability to establish vision and direction, to influence and align others towards a common purpose, and to empower and inspire people to achieve success.

There are some situations when the team leader needs to be directive, for example, to address an issue that threatens the achievement of objectives. A mentoring or coaching style is appropriate when there is time to focus on development of the team as well as goal achievement.

Taking time to try to understand the prevailing culture in an organisation is an important part of stakeholder analysis, project team management and team leadership. Organisational culture can be defined as the way things are done in an organisation, the unwritten rules that influence individual and group behaviour and attitudes which are applicable at multiple levels of organisation, including national culture or project culture.

Managing a team includes understanding and noticing workplace stress; the adverse reaction that people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them.

Project-based working will inevitably result in situations where individuals feel stressed and it is a crucial skill for the project professional to be able to notice signs of their own stress and have coping strategies, and to be alert to the signs of stress in the team.

Managing a team with culture and relationships in mind is key to good project management. Team ethos or team spirit plays an essential part in how everyone interacts with one another – a culture of trust and openness enables alignment to the project goals. 92 per cent of survey respondents in the Dynamic Conditions of Project Success research consider team ethos as an important factor for project success. Find out more about the conditions that enhance project outcomes here.

Leading major projects

When you’re a project professional working on major projects, programmes or portfolios, there are substantial complications and challenges. You can demonstrate your expertise and specialise in this area with the APM Major Project Leadership Specialist Certificate. Showcase your skills and experience in leading major projects to stand out from other project professionals.

Based around eight competences, the specialist certificate has been created by collaborating and working alongside representatives from private and public sector organisations who already lead the way in delivering major projects. It provides assurance to organisation that you have the specific skills, behaviours and experience required to lead on projects with significant macro impact.

Learn more

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Evolving project leadership

Evolving project leadership

Evolving project leadership presents the project practitioner with two journeys: the first establishes a vision of what good project leadership looks like; the second offers concrete steps to achieving this.

Building on the inclusive leadership message summarised in the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition, the book shows how outdated command and control behaviours are seldom effective in today’s changed delivery environment and can actually be counter-productive to project success.

Buy now

Understanding leadership in the context of transformation projects

This research aims to advance understandings of individual, team and organisation-wide leadership capabilities for successfully delivering transformation projects, and ways in which they can be fostered.

The research intends to provide advanced understandings of: approaches to leading transformation; challenges/opportunities for leadership and ways to effectively respond to them; and ways to examine and strengthen individual, team and organisational leadership capabilities. This study is linked to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) Project X research initiative – theme E on capability, leadership and knowledge management.

View research

Related reources

Project leadership: skills, behaviours, knowledge and values    RESOURCE  
This research has sought to draw out project leadership competences from the perspective of practising project leaders, aspiring project leaders, heads of profession, project sponsors and clients... read more

Errors, lies and misunderstandings: Systematic review on behavioural decision making in projects     RESOURCE  
This article is a comprehensive literature review of behavioural decision making in projects, that is, how decision making in projects happens (and why).... read more

Human resource management and project based organising: Fertile ground, missed opportunities and prospects for closer connections     RESOURCE  
This article reports on publishing trends at the intersection between HRM (human resource management) and PBO (project based organising) in key research-led journals in the project management field... read more 

Occupational stress and job demand, control and support factors among construction project consultants    RESOURCE  
This article investigates the relationship between job demands, job control, workplace support factors and occupational stress among South African construction project consultants... read more

What practitioners consider to be the skills and behaviours of an effective people project manager    RESOURCE  
Project managers need to show open and honest concern for and genuine interests in the people they work with, understanding their feelings and emotions... read more

How to be a leader of change in turbulent times    BLOG  
Personal discipline and organisation are needed when managing your programme through difficult and changing times... read more

How to be a great leader 

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Lessons learned from the inconsistent project manager    BLOG  
When you think of leadership you think of things like integrity, honesty, consistency, responsibility, respect, etc... right?... read more

Don’t manage projects only according to your view    BLOG  
My idea of a good project leader is someone who needs to be open to facts, evidence and other people’s views; they need to be open-minded ...read more

How to lead change management successfully    BLOG  
I have been delivering change programmes for well over 15 years and like many others in the profession I have a tried and tested set of tools I use to support organisations navigating change... read more

Getting flexible: how to project manage non nine-fivers   BLOG  
Increasingly, we are seeing more and more workers abandon the 9-5 daily grind in favour of flexible hours... read more

Five key challenges project leaders face    BLOG  
Project managers are constantly facing challenges that threaten the success of the projects they lead and the teams that they manage... read more

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

You can read more about team management and leadership chapter three of the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition.

The APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition is a foundational resource providing the concepts, functions and activities that make up professional project management. It reflects the developing profession, recognising project-based working at all levels, and across all sectors for influencers, decision makers, project professionals and their teams.

The seventh edition continues in the spirit of previous editions, collaborating with the project community to create a foundation for the successful delivery of projects, programmes and portfolios.

APM Body of Knowledge

Could you be a project manager?

A good place to start is to visit our careers section; this provides you with the tools and resources to begin your project management journey.

APM Careers

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