Key Qualities For An Effective Project Manager
This post describes key qualities needed for an effective project manager. It discusses the differences between leading and managing a project, explains the importance of managing stakeholders, describes how to gain influence by reciprocity, stresses on the significance of leading by example and managing by wandering around (MBWA), explores how to deal with the contradictory nature of work, and finally depicts how to acquire high Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Managing Versus Leading
Every project manager wishes to be living in a perfect world whereby everything would go according to the project plan without any issues. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case and the project manager as a ‘manager’ would have to be responsible for bringing the project back on track, resolving complex issues, monitoring results, ensuring stability, and deciding on how to balance among time, cost, and scope constraints of the project.
However, the project manager, as a ‘leader’, needs to be doing way more than that. Whatever was planned might have to be altered due to conflicts among team members, sudden change in customer requirements, or the emergence of new threats. Adapting to these changing circumstances requires from the project manager the ability to sense the urgency or the need to adjust the project plan, possess great vision, set up new directions, cope with uncertainty, innovate, and excite people to the change.
The challenge to become a successful and a valuable project manager is to be able to manage and lead a project simultaneously. Some project managers are good visionaries yet they lack the discipline to manage day-to-day project activities. Others are capable of managing the nitty-gritty of their projects but fail to drive and inspire people.
Managing Your Stakeholders
Many project managers get bogged down with the task of ‘micromanaging’ their team members without ever foreseeing the bigger picture which demands the cooperation and buy-in of a wider range of stakeholders including the sponsor, vendor, customer, contractors, and functional managers.
A key to successful project delivery is the ability to understand, orchestrate, integrate, and balance the interests, contributions, and involvements of all the stakeholders to the project. The challenge involves the proficiency in managing the web of internal and external interdependencies among stakeholder relationships, gaining the trust and respect of these stakeholders, and strengthening commitment and support from top management. Achieving all this would require strong communication, influential, and political skills.