Back when I was breaking into the project management industry, I recall taking a course where the first thing the instructor asked us was what our own personal life experiences made us good (potential) project managers. It was a very interesting exercise that yielded some very thought-provoking results.
Throughout my career, I’ve always thought back to this exercise and identified personality traits in colleagues and peers that I thought helped or hindered their ability to be impactful project managers. I’ll go through the most prominent ones in this article.
A project manager’s primary job is to ensure that the team does their job and delivers value to the client. In order to do this, the project manager relies on the team (and vice versa). The road of a project is not always smooth and often can be rife with differing opinions and even conflicts. It’s the job of the project manager to keep their cool when everyone else is losing theirs. Teams look to their leader and often follow their lead in how they conduct themselves. When the project manager shows a steadfast attitude and positive outlook, the team will follow suit.
This is an easy one to include however (and unfortunately) it’s not as prevalent as it should be. I’ve harped many times about how important open communications are to the success of a project. Without transparency, your communications are a fruitless endeavor. Your stakeholders need to feel that they are getting the real story and if at any point in the project they lose this feeling, your project is in very serious trouble. Not to mention the damage to your reputation, your organization’s and your team’s that will follow if you as a project manager are caught being dishonest to your stakeholders.
At the end of the day, you can’t be successful without a good work ethic. Your teams will see your example and more often than not, follow it. This doesn’t mean that to be a good project manager you have to be working 12 hour days and weekends, but it does mean that when you’re at work, you’re working. I’ve seen project managers who treat it just “as a job”. The mentality needs to be a hungry, results-oriented attitude. The most successful project managers don’t watch the clock – they know what has to get done and focus on that.
The most successful project managers know how to not take it all on themselves. By walking that fine line between working hard and not taking on too much, they are able to properly delegate tasks and responsibility to the appropriate team members. By doing this it not only takes some of the task burden off of the project manager to focus on actually managing the project, but it also leverages the knowledge and experience of your team members.