What Qualities Make a Good Project Manager?

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, 5 min read
project manager

The following post is by Felix Marsh from rabidofficemonkey.com. At Workfront we want to make your job easier, and we think the following tips will be useful to our readers. Enjoy!


A great project manager needs a combination of the following key qualities that are crucial for any truly effective project leader.

Excellent Communicator

We will start off with this one as it is arguably the most important of all. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively when managing any project or team is a skill that is absolutely essential.

Project leaders must be able to communicate their visions and articulate a project’s goal in a way that everyone can grasp for themselves, quickly and easily.


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They must also have the ability to express their expectations in a direct way and give regular, constructive feedback to the team they are managing in order to guide them.

When a project leader is unable to excel in this area and leaves the rest of the team in a general state of confusion and bewilderment, there is little hope of any project ever reaching a successful conclusion!

Honorable

In many ways, the project manager sets the standard for the rest of the team to follow and the best leaders are those who others feel they are able to trust, due to the fact that they consistently behave in an ethical and responsible way.

Actions speak louder than words and consistency in this area is vital. Eric Sheninger, senior fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) said:

"In my opinion all leaders have one thing in common—they do, as opposed to just talk. Leadership is about action, not position."

When team members can see that their project leader is 100 percent committed to the project and the team as a whole, they will have greater respect for their project manager and the entire working environment will be a happier and more productive place to be.

Enthusiastic

A pessimistic, negative manager is guaranteed to put any team on a sharp downward spiral.


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The A. A. Milne character Eeyore is a great example of the kind of personality you would never want to see in a project manager. A small pinch of Tigger’s contagious enthusiasm and another of Pooh’s optimism should form the core of any strong project manager’s personality!

Part of being an enthusiastic project manager includes having the ability to motivate your team. Project management experts Steven W. Flannes, Steven Flannes, and Ginger Levin offer this advice:

"Do not assume that what motivates you will motivate them.

"Observe them, consider their personalities and previous work, but most of all, ASK them what turns them on in the professional world. 'Asking' gives you important information, but it also creates good will."

Positive people naturally draw others toward them and this positivity and enthusiasm soon rubs off on others.

Problem Solver

In an ideal world, with efficient planning at the start and a clearly defined goal for everyone to work towards, all projects would work out just the way they were intended to with zero hitches along the way.

As we all know however, life is simply not that straightforward and problems must therefore be embraced and overcome in order to move forward on a project without unnecessary delays.

The onus is not necessarily on the project leader to come up with the right solution to any given problem, (although this would be a bonus) as there may well be another team member with skills that are better suited to dealing with any said issue that may arise. 

Eric Morfin, strategic project management consultant at Kepner-Tregoe Associates explains:

"Gone are the days when a lone project manager or problem solver can, after careful analysis, confidently declare that the cause has been found.

"Because problems can rarely be neatly delineated by single functions or operations, it is equally rare that they can be solved by individuals or even functional teams."

Ultimately, the project manager should be resourceful and creative when faced with problems and focus on identifying the fastest and most effective way to resolve them. In some cases, that may mean bringing together several team members or even multiple teams.

Cool and Collected

Project managers must be able to cope well with stress and pressure when dealing with the numerous issues and obstacles they are likely to be faced with within their role.

When problems occur, budgets are not met, or team members are struggling, a leader must remain cool and calm at all times and ideally hide any signs of pressure they may be feeling from the rest of the team.

Practically minded people take on each challenge as it comes with a logical, methodical approach. Those with a tendency to fold under pressure do not make strong project managers and should steer well clear of this type of role.


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Delegator

A vital part of the project manager’s role is the delegation of tasks to the right individuals.

This involves getting to know a team of people to the point where you fully recognize their personal strengths and abilities and understand what they do best. With this knowledge at your fingertips, you can delegate the right tasks to the right individuals and achieve the best results possible.

A Gallup study found that 90 percent of global businesses that adopted strength-based management practices saw increases in sales, profit, customer engagement, and engaged employees. Clearly, when managers leverage team members' strengths, everyone wins.

This information obviously takes time to pick up, but many managers have a knack for it.

Being able to hand over a task to someone and walk away knowing that you can trust him to carry it out to the best of his ability frees up a project leader's time to focus on the other areas requiring their attention.

A project manager who is able to demonstrate to a team that they trust them and have confidence in their abilities will get the best out of their team.

People feel undervalued and patronized when they have someone continually checking up on their work as this implies they are not good enough.

Competent

Perhaps this quality is a little too obvious to list, but what the heck.

Any project manager worth their salt must be good at what they do and demonstrate this ability to their team. If you are leading a team of individuals who perceive you as not knowing your bottom from your elbow, all manner of chaos will ensue.

Being a Good Project Manager Isn’t Easy

Having the theoretical side of project management under your hat is one thing; however, if you know your stuff and are blessed with all (or most) of the qualities on this list you ought to do pretty well!


About the Author:

Felix Marsh is a member of the Agil8 team. They offer the highest quality Agile consulting and training. Agil8 draws on experience working with organizations across all industry sectors over many years and the management and delivery of some of the world’s largest and most complex Agile implementations.


Get our ebook "Secrets of 40 PPM Experts on Changing Project Management to Project Leadership" to find out what the experts think about how project managers can lead change in their organizations.

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