What makes an effective project team? That will be an effective project manager.
The definition of a project is that it is a temporary endeavour, undertaken to create a product, service or result. That is very different to managing day-to-day operations, and it requires a person with unique qualities and traits to see it through.
Many project managers are born into the role – they are natural leaders who have a knack for getting stuff done. For others, the role is taught over time, with years of learning and experience moulding them into the project managers of today. Whatever the case, it is vital for project managers to possess and/or develop the following 10 qualities and traits:
1. Leadership skills
There is more than one of these. Good project managers are effective communicators, are honest people and are great at building relationships. Loyalty, decisiveness and charisma are also key factors that make a strong leader.
Although it is sometimes listed as a leadership skill, the ability to motivate people is much more about psychology. It comes naturally to the best project managers who have an uncanny ability to motivate the seemingly unmotivated. However, there are a number of tools and techniques that project managers can adopt to assist them with motivating others, such as SMART goal setting, celebration of success and others.
An effective project manager never puts the team down. Criticism should be constructive and helpful. The approach to correcting individual wrongs should be a private one; good project managers never ‘tell off’ or belittle people in front of others. They command respect by showing it and help people flourish.
4. Organised and efficient
The best project managers have their project management process down to an artform. They have excellent organisational skills and know where to assign people to get the most out of them. They are able to find efficient solutions to complex issues and know when to cut their losses or abandon a fool’s errand.
5. Problem solver
A spanner can be thrown into the works on any project, and project managers make their name by solving these issues. The ability to solve problems effectively is very important because it enables the project manager to properly direct the team and remove potential obstacles to their performance.
Project managers exist to achieve the required deliverables by the scope of projects, so they should instinctively be results-driven. The most important thing for a project manager is to see a project through and deliver the required results. However, it is equally important for project managers not to be task-driven and obsessed with to-do lists, as this may never lead to the required results.
This is perhaps the most important quality of project managers. Their experience, knowledge and know-how has to be evident to the team for them to have any confidence in the project manager. However, it is not just a matter of confidence and trust, the project manager must actually know what they are doing, why, where, when and how.
There are a number of Project Management certifications that enable current and aspiring Project Managers to gain the relevant knowledge and skills required for effective project management. Project Managers need to be constantly refreshing their knowledge to ensure it is up-to-date and they remain knowledgeable.
Examples of popular project management certifications include: PRINCE2®, APM PFQ (Project Fundamentals Qualification), APM PMQ (Project Management Qualification), PMI CAPM® (Certified Associate in Project Management) and PMI PMP® (Project Management Professional).
Good project managers are not robots. Being empathetic, understanding and caring for the people in a team is a big part of motivating them. Often, it can be the case that some people in a team feel as though they are undervalued. Good project managers truly listen to their team members, are compassionate and if required take actions to change perceptions or provide the necessary support to individuals.
Competence in project management is a big word. Competent managers not just know what they are doing, but can effectively balance competing project constraints and skilfully manage any of the risks, issues and challenges that arise during the project lifecycle. Competent Project Managers never appear out of their depth or out of touch.
10. Calm under pressure
Project Management is often associated with high-pressure environments. Project Managers need to be able to stay calm under pressure and get through it. Many people panic in a high-pressure environment, but the best project managers thrive in them. They see through the pressure and deliver results by keeping calm.
Nobody is born an expert, though some people may demonstrate some or all of the above qualities and traits intuitively. You may develop these qualities by continuously learning and practising them. There are a number of resources available for studying them, however, practical application of the learning is your key to success.
PRINCE2® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved. | CAPM®, PMI® and PMP® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. | APM is a trademark of the Association for Project Management.