How AI is Changing the Role of Project Leaders

As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly prevalent, project leaders will need to shift everything from where they focus their efforts to the skillsets they prioritize.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a part of every industry, and companies are racing to keep up. According to the PMI 2021 Pulse of the Profession® survey, nearly one-third of respondents said an enterprise-wide adoption of AI was a high priority for their organization.  

This nonstop growth is impacting both the scope of projects and how they are managed. For project managers, AI will shift how they lead in these critical ways. 

Tech literacy will be an essential skill.
To fully reap the benefits of AI in their work, project leaders need to start by improving their technical ways of working

“Although AI is helping the project managers to make better resource allocations, to delegate the tasks, and manage risk while viewing the project holistically and adjusting it accordingly, during its execution, it cannot manage the project on its own,” Syed Ahsan Mustaqeem, a senior engineer at Pakistan Petroleum Limited in Karachi, told the Projectified® podcast. 

The PMI Future 50 leader said that project management professionals will always exist, and they will be well-versed in AI. 

Time allocation will change.
While there are still fears that AI will ultimately make roles and responsibilities obsolete, Mustaqeem said that this is not the case. Instead, it will change what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. 

“The goal of AI in project management is, I believe, not to get rid of the scheduler, planner or project manager, but instead to free up those people to do more value-driven work, and leaving the more repeatable, programmable functions to machine learning tools,” says Mustageem. “It’s a way to change how time is used to allow our most valuable resources, which are people, to spend more time doing what they do best.” 

AI will increase the need for power skills.
Mustaqeem believes that as the role of AI and other advanced technology increases, project managers will need to develop power skills in those areas where the technology falls short. 

“Technology management will help the business-as-usual tasks, but it also relies on a project managers’ ability to inspire the team, to communicate with the stakeholders, to negotiate with the partners and to build the team’s confidence, which is very important,” he said. “Companies are already placing greater value on managers with the soft skills, and believe me, with AI and automation coming into play, the softer skills have been an area which needs to be developed to a larger extent.”  

Mustaqeem said that collaboration and problem-solving — one of our top power skills — are at the top of the list of power skills that project leaders need to possess. This aligns with the results of our 2023 Pulse of the Profession® Report, Power Skills, Redefining Project Success, which includes communication, problem-solving, collaborative leadership and strategic thinking.

“During the course of projects, we come across different problems, and problem-solving is one of the lifesaving skills for the project manager,” he said.

To hear more from these project professionals and learn more about how AI is impacting project management, listen to How Project Leaders are Using AI.


View More Digital Exclusives

Headshot of Syed Ahsan Mustaqeem