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Most people are familiar with the standard project leadership roles, such as project manager, project sponsor, or even scrum master. But there are many ways to empower your teams by distributing leadership roles. In this blog, I’ll discuss a few lesser known ways that people can help lead a project. There is nothing magical or iron-clad about any of these titles or job descriptions. Feel free to take what works for you, rename titles to fit your organization, and ignore ideas that don’t make sense for you. Much will depend on your organizational structure and the size of the project.

The point is to grow leaders in your organization and to grow self-managing teams that increasingly work together more effectively and efficiently. By helping the people on your teams understand that management is a responsibility of everyone, the project manager can work more as a servant leader to empower your teams. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of self-managing teams and servant leadership, this post by Allen Holub on getting started with Agile includes some great book recommendations.

Here are some project leadership roles that you might consider trying:

Activity leader

Work together to break the project down into the essential deliverables needed to accomplish your project scope. Each of these activities needs a leader. That person may do all of the work or might simply coordinate the work. But that person can be accountable for ensuring that the scope of that activity, as defined, is accomplished and meets the needs of the client. Typically, this person also focuses on the timeline for the activity, ensuring that any critical deadlines are met. More often than not, your activity leaders lead a group of activities, some of which might be related to each other.

Quality chief

I have written before on the need to define the quality that you want on your activities. It is cheaper to build it in than it is to repair it. Rework is expensive and can happen when the scope of the activity is misunderstood. Each quality objective for your activities will need someone who is responsible for signing off on the quality testing that is done. Testing the quality may be as simple as inspecting the work product. Yet, someone needs to understand what is needed and approve the work which can happen before or after the work is seen by the client.

Budget manager

Hopefully, when you plan your project, the person or team doing the work on the activity has estimated the cost of that activity. There can be many reasons that an activity comes in at greater than or less than the estimate. Having someone on your team who is analyzing those reasons and monitoring the budget is smart. It’s like having an independent auditor. Clients like to understand why they got a whopper of a bill that they weren’t expecting. And having someone who is not the one doing the work be responsible for this adds a bit of credibility. Obviously they will need to communicate with each other.

Risk manager

Throughout the life of your project, risks will materialize that will need managing. I’ve written about the secret sauce behind risk management. Someone needs to be managing your project risk. In some organizations, there is a risk management department with expertise in analyzing and mitigating risks. In organizations without that department, you can groom someone to be a risk manager and train them in some of the nuances of that profession.

Contract manager

This is another area where some organizations will have a department that handles the contracting process. Even when that department exists, it is the responsibility of the project manager to be aware of any procurement contract requirements. And to ensure those contract requirements have been met by your team. This is true during the course of the project, and again when you close out the project.

Lesson learned manager

Learned being the operative word. When teams make the same mistakes over and over again, everyone loses.  Try having someone in your organization or on your project team be responsible for ensuring that lessons learned are documented in a usable format for tracking them at the organizational level. That means you need searchable keywords that make sense for everyone, along with information on who the expert is, and what lessons were learned.

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Do any of these project leadership roles make sense in your organization? Can you see a way to use any of these to empower your teams? Share your thoughts in the comments section.