Leadership means providing direction and guidance to individuals and groups. It involves the ability to choose and apply appropriate styles of management in different situations. Besides displaying leadership with his or her team, the individual needs to be seen as a leader in representing the project to senior management and other interested parties.



The purpose of this competence element is to enable the individual to lead, provide direction and motivate others in order to enhance individual and team performance.



A leader has to be aware of different leadership styles and decide which is appropriate for his or her nature, for the project, for the team being managed and for other interested parties, in all types of situations. The leadership style adopted includes patterns of behaviour, communication methods, attitudes towards conflicts, ways of controlling team members’ behaviours, decisionmaking processes and the amount and type of delegation. Leadership is important throughout the full lifecycle of the project, and becomes especially important when change is required or when there is uncertainty about a course of action.


Key competence indicators

Initiate actions and proactively offer help and advice

To take the initiative means having the tendency and ability to start an unrequested action, including coming up with a proposal or advice, taking the lead and/or giving or helping without first being invited to do so. Taking the initiative requires the ability to think ahead, both of possible situations and possible solutions. 
Taking the initiative adds to one’s influence and heightens one’s visibility. On the other hand, if the initiative is not welcomed or turns out badly, there is a risk of losing influence or status. So every initiative should always be guided by a careful weighing of pros and cons. 


  • Proposes or exerts actions
  • Offers unrequested help or advice
  • Thinks and acts with a future orientation (i.e. one step ahead)
  • Balances initiative and risk


Take ownership and show commitment

To take ownership means demonstrating personal buy-in. This commitment to the objectives of the project makes people believe in its value. The individual acts as an entrepreneur by taking full responsibility for the process and by spotting opportunities for improvement. The individual constantly monitors processes and results to spot the right occasions for intervention and improvement and opens up possibilities for learning.


  • Demonstrates ownership and commitment in behaviour, speech and attitudes
  • Talks about the project in positive terms
  • Rallies and generates enthusiasm for the project
  • Sets up measures and performance indicators
  • Looks for ways to improve the project processes
  • Drives learning


Provide direction, coaching and mentoring to guide and improve the work of individuals and teams

To give direction, coaching and mentoring means to give guidance and support to people and teams and establish conditions that engage people with their assignments. Coaching and mentoring is focused on improving the abilities and self-reliance of team members. Direction is guiding them in their activities. The individual creates and communicates personal and common objectives and acts from these. The individual creates and shares a vision that leads the project. To give direction, coaching and mentoring requires the ability to keep a cool head in demanding and unclear situations. It also requires that the individual knows when and in what direction coaching or mentoring are needed and what form they should take. Sometimes it may be better to withhold a proposal or decision for a while to promote the self-reliance or creativity of teams or individuals.


  • Provides direction for people and teams
  • Coaches and mentors team members to improve their capabilities
  • Establishes a vision and values and leads according to these principles
  • Aligns individual objectives with common objectives and describes the way to achieve them


Exert appropriate power and influence over others to achieve the goals

To exert power and influence means being visible as a leader and opening up the possibility for others to follow. Therefore one needs to understand the demands of colleagues, subordinates, clients and other interested parties, to respond to them and influence their expectations and opinions. To exert influence also means directing other people’s actions, whether or not one is in command. A leader actively shapes views and creates the perception of situations, results and relationships through words and actions. Sometimes the use of power is necessary to realise results or resolve deadlock; in other situations, a simple, wellplaced word may be even more effective. The open use of power may create resentment or invite counterpower, so a leader should know when to use what means of power and in what way. The use and effectiveness of power and influence is always tightly linked to communication. A leader should know the possibilities and limits of each communication means and channel. 


  • Uses various means of exerting influence and power
  • Demonstrates timely use of influence and/or power
  • Perceived by stakeholders as the leader of the project or team


Make, enforce and review decisions

Making decisions means being able to select a course of action based on several possible alternative paths. Often decisions are made with incomplete or even contradictory information and with uncertain consequences. Making decisions entails consciously selecting from alternatives and choosing the one that is most consistent and aligned with the objectives. Decisions should be taken based upon analysis of the facts and incorporating the views and opinions of others. 
Sometimes the information quality is so poor that decisions are based on intuition. Reviewing and being prepared to change prior decisions based on new information is an essential part of the ability to take decisions. Decisions often have to be taken by others (for instance by line managers, steering committees, etc). The leader exerts his or her influence to have these others take the right decisions at the right time.


  • Deals with uncertainty
  • Invites opinion and discussion prior to decision-making in a timely and appropriate fashion
  • Explains the rationale for decisions
  • Influences decisions of stakeholders by offering analyses and interpretations
  • Communicates the decision and intent clearly
  • Reviews decisions and changes decisions according to new facts
  • Reflects on past situations to improve decision processes