When projects go wrong, as they sometimes do, blame is often shifted to the project manager. Sometimes the failure of the project is due to the project manager, but more often than not, it is the failing of the team. 

How then does a project manager build accountability in the team? Ideally, the project manager should be in a position to choose team members, but this is usually not the case. The project manager, therefore, needs to work with who they have. The project manager will need to adjust their leadership approach based on each individual. This means understanding both the ability and the willingness of each team member to meet the project objectives. Team members should then be managed in one of four ways:

  1. Where a team member is highly willing but less able, they should be guided and taught
  2. A team member not willing but highly skilled will need to be pushed a little with the project manager being motivating, providing support, and setting regular check-ins
  3. Team members that are low in ability and willingness will need to carefully instructed and their work frequently review (or ideally moved off the project)
  4. Team members that are high in willingness and ability should be given the latitude to work independently with reviews only at key checkpoints  

Foundational to these four leadership styles is another important item. The project manager should establish a vision for the project and make sure that this vision is shared by all the team members.

Finally, team members should ask themselves “what will I bring to this project today? How will I support my team? How will I ensure this project is a success?”

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