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Project Managing in Chaos: Developing Team Leadership

Basia Skudrzyk

· management,leadership,behavior,economics,wellness

Originally published on


When you manage projects in volatile environments, everyone needs to be ready to take on a leadership role when necessary. Team building, leadership development activities and effective communication ensure that group dynamics enable maximum performance. By setting up an environment that fosters listening, encouragement, action planning and effective delegation, you can build a team that supports and motivates each other.

Below, Basia Najarro Skudrzyk sheds light on developing team leadership during project management chaos. Since receiving her MBA from Webster University in 2006, Ms. Najarro Skudrzyk has distinguished herself with her listening skills and attention to client needs. The talents and knowledge that defined the first part of her career in project management have easily translated to other positions in education and healthcare and manufacturing.

Build Your Confidence

When you introduce yourself or ask others to do so, describe your strengths and actions aligned with your organization’s goals and project expectations. Resist the temptation to rely on your title and years of experience. Instead, mention your passions, visions, and values. You want to convey a message about your performance and identity to leave a lasting impression. In your statement, include what you’re proficient at, what you’re passionate about and what principles you espouse.

To prepare, conduct a self-assessment by listing a few descriptive phrases you think other people might say about you when you’re not around. Then, talk to several people who know you well to find out how they would describe you. Take a few days to reflect on the difference between what you think about yourself and what others observe about you. Then, write a sentence that describes your authentic self as you want to be seen by others. Once you can express yourself in this concise way, you can exude confidence as a creative and dedicated project management professional.

Team Leadership

To develop team leadership skills, foster a learning environment that enables each team member to contribute. Allow each person to identify a personal leadership plan. “Recognition of different leadership attributes and styles can facilitate a productive work environment. When team members value each other, the team can overcome inevitable project conflict and discord,” suggested Najarro Skudrzyk.

To kick off a leadership development program, ask participants to think about great leaders they’ve known. By building self-awareness, business acumen and the ability to work well with others, team leaders can emerge and evolve on your team. Each participant should identify their strengths, blind spots and leadership purpose. They should also focus on when their energy level is highest and what they love doing. Through the identification of their value to the organization, participants focus on developing and utilizing their skills to benefit the project team.

Each month, schedule time for team members to report out on their progress developing skills in solving problems. Encourage participants to build expertise in influencing others, responding to change and adapting to rules and procedures set by external forces. It’s also helpful to have everyone reflect on goals they’ve set and achieved, tasks they’ve failed at, work they’re doing and don’t want to be doing, and work they have no interest in ever pursuing.

As an effective project manager, you set an example for other team members. How you react to problems and challenges sets the tone for the rest of the personnel. Maintaining accountability ensures that team members can assume a leadership role when necessary, as well. Discuss how developing leadership skills benefits the organization, team, and company.

In summary, with self-awareness about how anger, anxiety, guilt, depression, insecurity, and embarrassment trigger an emotional reaction, team members can develop the resilience and emotional strength required to be good leaders. Recognizing feelings, curbing destructive behaviors, managing emotions appropriately, and staying motivated enables success. This strategy works to overcome setbacks and obstacles, as well. By understanding what others feel, emerging leaders can build rapport to collaborate with team members for long-term gains.