First, They’re Uncommonly Good Leaders
Leadership seems to come easily to them and they appear to love leading. They need to be able to motivate people about the large-scale change that may be coming in the project. All organization-wide projects involve change, whether it’s a new system or new processes that are coming into play or a new product that’s being developed. The top project managers are self-starting leaders that understand quickly what’s needed to lead. They also can motivate the other team players.
They command authority naturally and have people getting in line to follow them. When making a strategic decision about the project, they’re comfortable and possess an innate confidence in being followed. And they’re prepared to defend what they are doing.
This is critical since much of the work will affect executives. Effective project managers running organization-wide projects may find themselves in a situation where they may not agree with the executives, and they have to know how to be able to get them to see the light. The project leaders on Mount Rushmore don’t say yes to everything the CIO requests. At the same time, PM leaders know how to get executives on board with the decisions they’ve made. And they’re trusted because they know they’ve talked to the right people and departments. In other words, they’ve gained confidence and trust through savvy moves.
Second, They Can Imagine What Could Happen
They possess the experience and imagination to know what to look for in every situation. Whether it’s an issue, a risk or some other aspect, they can quickly think through what questions to ask and what they need to know. For example, somebody may come in and announce that if a particular contractor can’t get the work done by a certain time, the deadlines are going to be missed. The effective project manager knows what to ask to find out if that’s truly an issue.
Or somebody may come in with a seemingly small problem, such as not being able to get network cables in line by a certain date. That may seem small on the surface, but it could turn out to be really bad because it may involve time, unplanned costs and resources. There are positives and negatives in every situation, and good project managers know how to drill down and determine what’s what.
Third, They Love Project Management
Related to this is continuous enthusiastic and positive communication about the project. Good project managers are strong communicators across all departments. And they’re enthusiastic about change since most projects are about bringing change. To lead, they project belief in the project. They sincerely believe in the goal and the service they’re providing. If they’re not enthusiastic, the people that are part of the project aren’t going to care. As a result, the project may be doomed from the start.
True project leaders also believe in project management and see it as a challenge and a discipline that makes for a stronger organization in the future. It may get tough because they need to stay on top of communications, quality assurance, risk management and issues management plans. But these aren’t burdens. The strong project manager does them because he or she knows they will result in successful projects.
Of course, they’re also cool under pressure, communicate well and are good problem solvers. Do other attributes come to mind? Share them with the MPUG community in the comments below.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Projility blog here.