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Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing
I'm not sure that there are leadership skills specific to this domain, but in general when you have projects where the competencies required to deliver the scope are in high demand and low supply, greater focus on inspiring team members and creating high performing teams is required.
All the leadership competencies are important, from listening all the way to appreciation. The best you can do is identify competencies that need work and spend more time on those. Check out the leadership skills assessment tool I posted a few years ago.
One of the best definitions of leadership I've read here in our community:
"Just as a sculpter can see the work of art hidden within a shapeless rock, a leader can see the talents within a team member and help them discover their true calling or potential"
Do you know who was the author?
There is not about leadership. It is about to understand a critical attibute that makes software totally different to deal with other products: intagibility. About other things remember that must be thinking taking into account the context, the environment but not the domain.
Have a broad and deep knowledge of the technology platforms that will be used in the project so you have the technical knowledge to ask relevant question and thus be able to direct the project and implement the objectives of the project and not just simply be managing the resources that are managing the project.
Many if not most of the companies that hire IT Project Managers don't require them to have experience in a technical role and as such they can never have deep knowledge of the technology being used.
In conclusion such PMs can perform a wide variety of the project management tasks but can't really direct the project team as they are unable to ask relevant questions and even if those questions are asked they are unable to understand the answers.
Managing resources for such PMs means requesting people to be assigned to the projects without making the final decision for assignment and then during the execution of the project asking for status report. There is nothing more these PMs can do when they don't have deep technical knowledge.
From my point of view the following leadship skills are key:
- Situational leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Behavorial leadership
- Authentic leadship
I appreciate your question, especially the portion to “… managing cutting edge IT projects.” To baseline my response, I’m going to assume that the leader has what I call “Architectural Awareness” of the IT and targeted domains of the project. Note that this does not portray that the individual is an expert in those domains, but that they can navigate (i.e., Understand, Interpret and Communicate) within them.
On cutting edge projects, the leader must be committed to the vision of the project and not simply focused on meeting the objectives, which tend to sway in their interpretation as roadblocks on the functional, technical and political spectrum are inevitably encountered. They can not fear mistakes or failures made by others or by themselves, and when mistakes or failures are made, there should be no concern to overtly admitting them. Risks should be weighed as opportunities and where appropriate sought after (i.e., Product and Technology Risk / Opportunity Risk). Strategic and empathetic thought, that is, a challenge-based mindset must be their foundation coupled with a strong desire and a willingness to seek out advice. When the above occurs with a leader who is willing to adapt, that is, pivot, then successes’ door is within reach.
The above list (in my opinion) is a baseline for the cutting/bleeding edge, with additional qualities being added based on the specialty domain (e.g., ERP, ML/AI, etc.) of the project. Again, great question!
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