Four hands, each holding a puzzle piece, meet in the middle to form the puzzle.

Task Leads: A Shared Approach to Project Management

In principle, project management is simple. Many know it to be a balancing act of time, cost, and quality with the goal of achieving certain defined objectives. In practice, however, project management can be complex. There are countless different methods, strategies, and tactics, and conflicting views on which approach is best. Every project is unique, and the reality is that one size does not fit all; an approach should ultimately be selected based on the project at hand and the team involved. 

Project management becomes increasingly complex when dealing with large, multifaceted projects. In those cases, it can be effective to implement a Task Lead Approach and make project management a shared team experience. So, what is involved in a Task Lead Approach and how is it implemented?

1.       Compartmentalize

The Task Lead Approach works by thinking of large projects as a sum of smaller ones. For example, a project may be broken into components for things like community engagement, data collection, analysis, and reporting – whatever prominent tasks the project includes. By identifying several overarching project components, team members can then share the work of managing a project by taking on leadership roles for each part.

2.       Delegate

Most project managers agree that while delegation is vital to the successful organization of a project, it is easier said than done. It requires trust, careful consideration, and an existing relationship to know which team members are best suited for what tasks. The Task Lead Approach involves delegating management roles for different aspects of a project, making team members responsible for things like assigning resources, tracking the schedule, and maintaining financial accountability on their section of the project.

3.       Communicate

Any time tasks are delegated, ongoing communication is key for helping the process run smoothly. The project manager should check in regularly with the task leads, and the task leads should check in regularly with their teams. By maintaining frequent dialogue, the team can work together to ensure that the approach is working for everyone.

The Task Lead Approach is a fairly simple way to engage a team in managing a project together. Here are some of the ways this approach might benefit your projects and your team: 

1.       Skills Development

Giving each team member the opportunity to lead part of a project can be an effective way to boost their skills, knowledge, and competency. The Task Lead Approach allows team members to gain valuable experience in leadership, project management, delegation, decision making, and communication. It is simultaneously an exercise of independence, empowerment, and team building.

2.       Collaboration

The Task Lead Approach is fundamentally based on collaboration; the team must work together to ensure all project components successfully come together in the end. Collaboration promotes development of interpersonal skills and allows individuals to provide and receive constructive feedback by observing and learning from one another. It also benefits the project by stimulating new ideas and improving efficiency.

3.       Efficiency

The Task Lead Approach can increase the effectiveness of the team and lead to better execution of the tasks. It extends what the project manager is able to achieve by distributing the workload among a group of qualified individuals. It also allows the project to be highly organized with a clear designation of responsibilities.

4.       Accountability and Ownership

Another benefit of the Task Lead Approach is that it creates shared accountability and ownership. Sharing the responsibility of managing projects means sharing accountability as a team. By the same token, the approach instills a true sense of ownership of a part of the project success, which is something that can be celebrated together.

Managing projects does not have to be a one-person job; managing large projects independently can be overwhelming and ineffective. Managing projects together, on the other hand, is a win-win for all!

Eden Klein
Environmental Planner at Narratives Inc.

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