A new project management office (PMO) needs to be set up for success. One of the integral factors to bring about that success is leadership, so we’re going to explore what it takes to be a strong PMO leader.

For new PMO leaders or those seasoned in the process of creating a new office, the leadership skills needed are the same. It takes a mix of soft skills to manage the people you work with and hard skills to make sure the job gets done.

It helps to define what makes a good leader so you can find areas you need to work on and also know what you excel at. Here, we’re going to look at the six skills a PMO leader needs to make sure creating a new office will be a success.

Leadership skill 1: Have a vision

In a freshly minted PMO, a leader needs to have a clear understanding of what the office is going to do and how it fits into the current business structure. This will be outlined in the mission statement of the office, but a leader needs to bring that to life.

Having a vision and a strategic understanding of the business will make sure the PMO is on track to being a success. When you know the direction of your PMO, you will be able to take your PMO team and management on the path to success.

Leadership skill 2: Strong communication

It’s not enough to be able to elucidate your overall visions; you need to communicate a lot of information as a good PMO leader.

You need to be confident to speak to everyone, such as:

  • The C-suite who are holding you to account for your PMO activities
  • Your team who needs support and guidance to achieve their goals
  • Stakeholders who are investing money and trust in the work you’re doing

Verbal and written communication skills need to be well-honed for any leader. There will be times when you need to speak truth to power and others where you need to deliver difficult messages to the people you lead.

Leadership skill 3: Be collaborative

Leading a newly created PMO is a major task, and it’s ok to need support from other people. Being able to ask people within the business to collaborate on tasks will:

  1. Ease the burden of the work you need to do
  2. Help you increase your skills by working with others
  3. Demonstrate that you’re keen to work across the business

When you collaborate with team members, other business leaders, and stakeholders, it sets a good example to your PMO team as well. Collaboration will help them improve at their job and get tasks completed faster – exactly what you want from a new set of colleagues.

Leadership skill 4: Great decision making

A major activity in your PMO is risk management and mitigation, so making tough decisions is a big part of the job. You need to be able to make quick and effective decisions based on what projects and the business needs.

Having an effective way to document the decision-making process will help you improve your choices in the long-term, increasing the success of your PMO going into the future.

Leadership skill 5: Results focus

You always need to keep your eye on the metaphorical prize to be a successful leader. While having a vision for your PMO is important, always referring back to the vision will set you and your office up for success.

Keep a focus on what you’re out to achieve, and talk about goals and KPIs often. When your team see your focus on what’s important to your office, they will follow that through with their attitude to their work.

Leadership skill 6: Be a mentor

Setting an example of how you work is one thing; actively working with your team to be a mentor takes leadership to the next level.

You need to be supporting the people who are coming up behind you in the business to excel in their roles. Investing your own time in developing your team will pay dividends with a stronger and more knowledgeable workforce.

Strong leadership setting your PMO up for success

At the very beginning of your PMO journey, you need to make sure you understand what strong leadership looks like so you can set your new office up for success. These six skills encapsulate what it means to be a strong PMO leader to make sure your new office is successful.