Project management is the discipline of organizing and managing resources (e.g. people) in a way that the project is completed within defined scope, ...

Qualities Needed for a Project Manager

Qualities Needed for an Project Manager

Top 10 attributes that characterize successful Project Managers

1. Sense of ownership
This is the core concept that we emphasize in the Project Management Workshop. The PM role involves occupying the hot seat. It is not for the faint-hearted or the shirkers or the super-delegators. In any situation, people are always looking for someone to step forward to take ownership and to be an effective PM, you have to make a habit of it. Customers trust and prefer a PM who demonstrates this sense of ownership for the success of the project.

2. Awareness of the flexible but process-oriented culture and dynamic environment
Successful PMs, whether a lateral joinee or a long-term employee, seem to strike a balance between two things: (i) awareness and adherence to defined processes (ii) acceptance of gaps and ambiguity under certain conditions. Our processes lend themselves to fine-tuning in the form of tailoring and approved deviation. Lack of awareness is wasteful and unacceptable. Blind and rigid adherence leads in the worst case to problems and in the best case to sub-optimal results. In the dynamic environment we operate in, published documents often lag the current reality so one needs to get used to it rather than be unsettled by it.

3. Belief in oneself and one's team
Any non-trivial endeavour requires confidence in success without any clues that guarantee success. You have to believe you can achieve the goal and transmit that optimism to your team. Your trust in the team has to communicated and shown in your behaviour via delegation, role allocation and yes, your expectations, too. Expect high performance, facilitate it and you will get it from your team. Breathing down their shoulder, holding your cards close to your chest and setting low expectations are prescriptions for bad performance.

4. Assertiveness
There will always be situations that are difficult to handle, internally and externally. The aggressive subordinate, the bossy boss, an unreasonable customer with past incidents as weapons... A successful PM with clear focus on the goal has to have the courage of conviction to confront these. Most people make the mistake of, "This time I will let it pass but in future if it happens again, I will not permit this." Wrong! It is easier to act tough right in the beginning and show flexibility judiciously on other occasions. Once you create an image of being weak and agreeable or unquestioning, the demands will be progressively worse. If this is not something that naturally comes to you, arm yourself with more data, better logical analysis of all alternatives and stick to the goal.

5. Networking
Too many techies who grow into PM roles underestimate the importance of networking. Unfortunately this is not an activity that can be taken up one day and completed. One needs to consistently have the curiousity, humility and confidence to interact with people in different parts of the organization to develop rapport. It is these human relationships that play an important role in any project, not just processes, tools and technical prowess.

6. Leadership via influence
There is more talk these days of leadership than management because "manager" denotes a role or a position whereas a leader can be any person who impacts a situation. It is about influence. Influence could be achieved through expertise, skills, traits or attitude. In the knowledge industries, supervision skills and business-as-usual management are necessary but insufficient. One needs to challenge the status quo frequently, connect with people and influence the agenda positively. Effective PMs are good leaders who pay attention to their own leadership development and of their teams.

7. Ability to identify and manage risks
An i-flex senior recently said, "A good project manager is a good risk manager. A bad risk manager is a bad project manager." Someone has said, "Risk Management is Project Management for adults." Read books and articles, hear about others' learnings, and reflect on your own experiences to develop the capability to identify potential problems and act to prevent them. While positive thinking is advised in many other areas, this is one place where negative thinking is useful.

8. Ability to define processes
Most projects present opportunities to decide how to do something. Good PMs not only take those decisions but they ensure that they document and disseminate this through suitable forums, thus contributing to the organization. There is a certain knack to preparing a template as opposed to an informal note for one-time use. Have it and use it or find a suitable person in the team to do it. Customers perceive significant value-addition when we formulate a way of doing things and deliver such additional artifacts.

9. Expertise in escalation
This is a subtle skill that is essential at senior roles. Knowing what, when and how to escalate is part skill, part art. Not escalating at the right time to the customer or to your manager will be seen as an issue by itself. You can't escape by saying how you tried to take on all the load and responsiblity yourself. The point is whether the issue got resolved. Anything you do -- including asking for help or screaming aloud -- that helps solve a problem, is good. When dealing with seniors, communicate the core issue crisply; always recommend action alternatives; omit unnecessary detail, especially things like who said what and what all you tried and failed.

10. Enjoy and Let (the Team) Enjoy
Last, but not the least, one needs to enjoy something in order to excel in it. Whatever be the problems, setbacks, constraints or hardships, you need to derive pleasure in getting things done, working out solutions to issues and turning around an adverse situation and achieving the mission.