Qualities of Successful Project Managers

Given the many roles played by a project manager, the broad range of skills needed, and the inherit challenges in successfully delivering a project, we need to find ways to accelerate the learning process. Two key ways to accelerate our learning: understanding the qualities of successful project managers and understanding the common mistakes made by project managers.

Successful project managers do not share personality types, appearances, or sizes, but they do share three important features.

  1. They excel in at least two of the five key skill categories (Project Management Fundamentals, Business Management Skills, Technical Knowledge, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills) and are either "good enough" in the other categories or staff their teams to compensate for their deficiencies.
  2. They avoid the "common" mistakes described in the next section.
  3. They bring a mindset and approach to project management that is best characterized by one or more of the following qualities:

    • Takes Ownership Takes responsibility and accountability for the project; leads by example; brings energy and drive to the project; without this attitude, all the skills and techniques in the world will only get you so far.
    • Savvy Understands people and the dynamics of the organization; navigates tricky politics; ability to quickly read and diffuse emotionally charged situations; thinks fast on the feet; builds relationships; leverages personal power for benefit of the project.
    • "Intensity with a Smile" Balances an assertive, resilient, tenacious, results-oriented focus with a style that makes people want to help; consistently follows up on everything and their resolutions without "annoying" everyone.
    • "Eye of the Storm" Demonstrates ability to be the calm "eye" of the project "hurricane"; high tolerance for ambiguity; takes the heat from key stakeholders (CxOs, business managers, and project team); exhibits a calm, confident aura when others are showing signs of issue or project stress.
    • Strong customer-service orientation Demonstrates ability to see each stakeholder's perspective; ability to provide "voice" of all key stakeholders (especially the sponsor) to the project team; strong facilitation and collaboration skills; excellent "active" listening skills.
    • "People-focused" Takes a team-oriented approach; understands that methodology, process, and tools are important, but without quality "people" it's very difficult to complete a project successfully.
    • Always keeps "eye on the ball" Stays focused on the project goals and objectives. There are many ways to accomplish a given objective. Especially important to remember when "things" don't go as planned.
    • "Controlled passion" Balances "passion" for completing the project objectives with a healthy "detached" perspective. This allows him/her to make better decisions, to continue to see all points of view, to better anticipate risks, and to better respond to project issues.
    • "Healthy paranoia" Possesses a "healthy paranoia" toward the project. Balances a confident, positive outlook with a realism that assumes nothing, constantly questions, and verifies everything.
    • "Context" understanding Understands the "context" of the projectthe priority that your project has among the organization's portfolio of projects and how it aligns with the overall goals of the organization.
    • "Looking for trouble" Constantly looking and listening for potential risks, issues, or obstacles; confronts doubt head-on; deals with disgruntled users right away; understands that most of these situations are "opportunities" and can be resolved up-front before they become full-scale crisis points.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169

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