What Makes a Successful Project Manager – Part 1
Much has lately been written and said about the most critical success factors for projects. What all these insights have in common is the fact that the project manager’s personality is a critical and central success factor.
However, what are the personality components and skills that generate this success? Are they “acquired” components or “innate” components? How should we choose our project managers?
The project manager carries out the project hopefully, with full cooperation from the project team and other stakeholders. His job consists mainly of building a relationship, based on open communication and high level of trust. An effective project manager may build a supportive climate and achieves a balance between the set of skills at the technical, interpersonal and conceptual levels. This system of checks and balances assists him to correctly evaluate and analyze various situations, and then act accordingly.
The project manager’s most important interpersonal skills, as detailed in Appendix G of the 4th edition of PMBOK®, are as follows:
- Team Building
- Decision Making
- Awareness of the organizational culture and politics
While there are other interpersonal traits that are essential for the project manager’s success, utilization of the above traits and capabilities can be of great assistance to him in the successful performance of his tasks.
Over the next few weeks, I will post several blog entries that will discuss each of the interpersonal traits and capabilities in greater detail. Let’s start today with ‘Leadership’.
“Leadership involves focusing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team. In general terms, leadership is the ability to get things done through others. The way to achieve this is through respect and trust vis-à-vis the performance teams, rather than through fear and submission.
Although important throughout all project phases, effective leadership is critical during the beginning phases of a project. At this phase, the emphasis is on generating high level of trust and getting the stakeholders to work towards the project goals. Emphasis is also placed on open and effective communications, and keeping the focus on the vision. The project manager needs to motivate and inspire the team in order to attain impressive achievements.
Later in the project, the project manager requires the performance teams to operate under heavy workloads and high levels of uncertainty. This situation often requires people to perform at a level far beyond their “natural performance capability” and to extend their capabilities to particularly high, unusual and continuous levels of performance over time.
During the project, the project team and those who head it are responsible for establishing and maintaining the vision, strategy and communication. In order to successfully do so, the project manager must provide encouragement, foster and establish trust and engage in team building. He must also influence, supervise, mentor and evaluate the performance of the project teams (often through an ‘Award System’).
Stay tuned for my next blog post discussing the interpersonal traits that any successful project manager must possess. Next post: Team Building and Motivation. And let me know what you think of this series.