What Makes a Good Project Manager?
All project managers know that a project must be completed on time and on budget and, many times, they will go above and beyond to meet the project requirements. But how do you find a good project manager from a sea of subpar project managers? The good ones not only execute a project within the given scope, but they are also accountable, strategic business partners who have a vested interest in the success of your business.
If you are looking for a project manager who will stand out from the crowd, below are some traits of a good project manager along with some technical skills which form a foundation to allow them to constantly adapt to changing project dynamics while placing the needs of the stakeholders above everything else.
They are a Strategic Business Partner
We mentioned above that one of the qualities of a good project manager is that they are a strategic business partner, but what does that mean? It means that they can offer a higher level of strategic leadership skills, instead of simple technical management skills. This can provide a significant advantage to businesses of all sizes since nowadays they are lots of factors, both internal and external, that can have a negative impact on projects of all sizes. Such factors include legal and legislative barriers, remote project issues, international and cultural factors and the triple bottom line (economic, social, ecological outcomes).
All of these factors can throw a monkey wrench into the entire project which the manager will have to overcome and if they do not have a clear understanding of how the project fits within the overall company-wide strategic goals, it will severely diminish the chances of a successful result.
They Recognize and Encourage Valuable Contributions
The success or failure of a project does not rest on the shoulders of one person. A project manager’s effectiveness is greatly impacted by the contributions of the team that is around them. A good project manager will share the credit for a job well done and encourage all team members to participate and contribute at the highest level. Instead of trying to do everything themselves, they will leverage the skills and knowledge of team members, which is a simple, yet effective tactic that will dramatically increase the likelihood of achieving project goals.
Respect and Motivation for Stakeholders
A good project manager will have the ability to communicate with and influence a variety of stakeholders which is critical to the success of the project. The need to find ways to motivate workers that the client has no direct control over, yet they can either make or break a project. Instilling confidence in the minds of clients, stakeholders, sponsors etc. is necessary especially if there is a need to approach them regarding changes to the scope of the project. They must demonstrate respect for team members, clients, and stakeholders at all times if they want to receive the same respect. It’s almost impossible for projects to progress in the right direction and on time without respect and motivation, especially from sponsors and stakeholders.
A Full Vested Interest in Success
A highly productive project manager believes in the work that they do and they are fully interested in seeing the project from initiation to close. Such a mindset helps them achieve the highest results throughout the project, no matter what they involved in – preparation of a project for retail businesses or creating a VR/AR app. They need to be completely involved in all professional aspects of the project, its activities and its people and they void overextending themselves if they want to maintain professional integrity and stakeholder satisfaction. Having resilience and the ability to maintain a high level of both client and team satisfaction are the keys to generating results.
Stress Integrity and Accountability
A project almost never goes as planned. Mistakes are to be expected, but it’s important to always accept when you are wrong and to learn from your mistakes. Good project managers are always accountable for their decisions and actions, which is vital because it sends a strong message to the rest of the team. Integrity, decisiveness, good judgment, the ability to form a vision and execute it, confidence in their own competence are hallmarks of highly effective project managers. These are must-have attributes since the majority of projects, regardless of type, industry, size or complexity, will have turbulent waters that will need to be navigated at some point. Without the ability to be selfless, to put the needs and wants of others before their own, they will never get people to follow them to a place where they wouldn’t go to by themselves. This is a big reason why many people fail at management positions or cannot do them at all.
That’s why a project manager absolutely needs to be a charismatic leader, an optimistic thinker and a visionary. It would be an understatement to say that such a fearless attitude is motivational, it is contagious. There are many leadership quotes and aphorisms that address this specific trait. But what it all comes down to is a unique ability to inspire.
Once people are intrigued, moved and excited by their ideas, they rarely need an additional push or empowerment. Nearly impossible to learn, but crucial for progress, this characteristic usually separates the good ones project managers from the rest of the pack.
Good project managers are natural born leaders. They know how to rally a team and get things done and people look up to them because of this.
As you can see, there are many characteristics and skills that make up a great leader. In summary, good project managers are able to lead their team with enthusiasm and perseverance through both the highs and lows of a project.