5 Characteristics of a Successful Project Manager
Project Managers play a host of roles, perhaps the most important of which is business partner to the organization they serve. By delivering projects on time, within budget and scope, and with high quality, Project Managers help their companies meet goals, trim costs, and increase profits.
Good Project Managers control project costs, organize the project team, ensure work products are produced, and watch for risks and issues that threaten the project’s success. Great Project Managers go beyond the basics. They understand the business need for the project’s results, how the project will affect the company’s bottom line, and who ultimately benefits from the project’s success. Technical skills are important, and knowing the mechanics of managing a project cannot be ignored, but truly effective Project Managers bring crucial traits to the job that make them stand out as high achievers. Below are descriptions of five such characteristics.
#1 – Strong Communicator
Of all the roles of a Project Manager, communicator is the key to project success. To be effective, Project Managers must communicate with their teams, support staff, vendors, users, stakeholders, project sponsors, and upper management. That is a lot of communicating.
Think of the Project Manager as the hub in a wheel. The spokes run from the hub to the rim in 360 degrees, and the wheel is always spinning. Messages run up and down the spokes. The hub (i.e., the Project Manager) collects the messages, interprets them, determines their impact on the project, and creates new messages to send up the spokes in the appropriate form to keep the wheel turning. Effective Project Managers must be masters of writing, presentations, conducting meetings, and thinking on their feet.
#2 – Inspiring Leader
Project Managers are leaders of teams. They must inspire their teams to work together to produce quality deliverables in a timely manner. The project team members may not have full visibility into the ultimate goals of the project. They must trust that the Project Manager sees the entire vision and is orchestrating their efforts in the best way to achieve the goal. They must know that the Project Manager wants each member of the team to succeed.
The Project Manager must have the back of every person on the team and will never deflect blame onto an individual. When the team functions as a single entity, they know they all sink or swim together. Inspirational Project Managers will throw themselves over the side before they would ever push someone else out of the boat.
#3 – Creative Problem Solver
Every project is fraught with challenges. Even the brightest Project Managers do not have a crystal ball to gaze accurately into the future. Effective Project Managers do not hide from problems—that is a recipe for disaster, both for the project and for the Project Manager’s career. Facing and solving problems is the daily meat of project management. If projects did not encounter snags along the way, there would be no need for a Project Manager.
Effective Project Managers look for creative solutions. Simply throwing more people and more money at a problem is rarely the solution. Project Managers determine the root cause of trouble and devise a solution that strikes as close to the root as possible.
Successful Project Managers also learn from experience. Every problem they encounter on one project becomes a potential risk on the next project, for which the Project Manager can create mitigation plans.
#4 – Effective Delegator
Project team members may look at their Project Managers and think they have a pretty cushy job. After all, the Project Managers aren’t writing any code, testing any programs, building the database, configuring the network, or any of the other tasks that produce the final product. What the workers may not recognize is all the effort that went into planning the project, organizing the structure of the tasks, recognizing the dependencies between tasks, understanding the skills needed, assembling the team, and describing to all team members the jobs they needed to do.
Delegation is more than telling another person what to do. It requires the delegator to understand the task, know the capabilities and limitations of the person to be assigned, identify how that person will know when the task is successfully accomplished, and determine the resources the person will need to succeed. An effective delegator knows when and how to follow up so the worker knows the Project Manager is engaged but not micro-managing.
#5 – Trustworthy Partner
Honesty, integrity, and courage are vital characteristics of effective Project Managers. Project Managers must be
- Able to recognize the truth about a situation.
- Willing to own the truth, even if (and especially if) the fault is their own.
- Brave enough to bear bad tidings to sponsors, stakeholders, and management.
The truth is good for business, even if the news is bad. When Project Managers try to hide the truth, cover up bad news, or spin negative results into positive outcomes, they violate the first rule of integrity. They may dodge a bullet one time, but when the truth finally comes to light, which it always does, their reputation is sunk.
Despite possible threats and angry demeanor, executives respect the person who delivers bad news honestly and forthrightly. When they know they can trust a Project Manager, the bosses will usually give that person the hardest projects. They know they will not be bamboozled by slick talk and fancy footwork.
Project management is part science and part art. Project Managers must absolutely know the science of their jobs. The artful side of project management comes only with time and experience. The best project management training will expose you to the art while teaching you the science.
RemoteMode’s full-service Project Manager training program not only teaches you the knowledge and skills of technical project management, it provides you with mentors and advisors who are practicing professionals in their own right. They can help you acquire the soft skills to accompany the hard skills of being a Project Manager. RemoteMode’s hands-on Virtual Lab immerses you in real-life project management tasks to speed your learning curve.
View the career path description for Project Manager and enroll to begin your training. You may also contact a RemoteMode career advisor to learn how quickly and affordably you can prepare for a new career in project management.
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