Leading A Project At Work



A couple of months ago, we discussed traits that make a good leader. Now let’s think specifically about how to be an effective leader on a project.


  • Get Organized – Google docs are your friend. (Or sticky notes, whiteboard, whatever works for you!) Whatever you do, don’t “wing it.”
  • Structure Your Meetings – When I was a kid in 4H, a youth development program, all of our meetings were conducted in parliamentary procedure. Now, that was a bit extreme. Aside from initial brainstorm sessions, all meetings should have a clear structure and purpose. Create a meeting agenda to hand out to the team if necessary, and redirect the conversation as needed to ensure you stay on track.
  • Set Goals and Timelines – to keep the team on track. These do not have to be set in stone, and you can adjust as needed, but they will keep the big picture in focus.
  • Delegate – Just because you are the team lead does not mean you should do all of the work. Collaborate with the team in to assign tasks to each member. Make sure they are on board and understand their role.
  • Avoid “Analysis Paralysis” – This is when over-thinking a situation prevents you from making decisions and getting anything done. This is my pet peeve in workplace projects (and something I am guilty of doing!) I’ve found that the best combatant is awareness of the problem. Keep your meeting agenda handy and reference it as needed. Are you straying too far from the big picture? If you truly have hit a roadblock, consider creating a sub-committee to specifically address that issue.
  • Build Your Team Wisely – Have you ever heard the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen”? In my experience, it’s most effective to keep action teams and committees to a small/manageable size. It’s a lot easier to get four to five people on board with a plan than ten. If the scope of your project does require the efforts of a large number of folks, is it possible to divide into sub-committees?


Think back to school projects where you worked in a team. What issues did you often encounter? What tools did you use to overcome and keep the team on track? Reflecting back on these experiences, do you have new insights on working with a team?


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