What are the most important qualities for a project manager? Patience? Intelligence? No doubt those certainly come into play, but according to research by ESI International, these are the seven most important personal qualities that a project manager should possess:
1. The ability to inspire a shared vision
Project leader or project manager? For most PM’s, they need to be a bit of both, and project leaders need to be able to harness a vision of where they want to go, as well as being able to inspire others to see that vision too. Visionary leaders help others to feel that they have a genuine stake in the project, and inspire commitment of a whole level more than would otherwise be achievable.
2. Excellent communication
Being a good communicator goes without saying. Needing to communicate with team members, Joe Public, stakeholders and senior management effectively takes a great all round communicator. Not only that, but in order to ensure effective communication, project managers need to be able to develop and stick to a well-defined communications plan too.
Project managers need to realise that their own behaviour sets the tone for the behaviour of the team. Good leadership means they need to commit to and to demonstrate the ethical practices that they speak of. They need to walk the talk and earn the trust of their team by setting a good example.
Project teams need little balls of energy to inspire their action and motivation on a project. Having a negative project leader is going to bring down the entire team, so whether you feel like it or not it is important to enter the room with a spring in your step and a can-do attitude.
Empathy and sympathy are not the same things. Sympathy is a self-indulgent process where we are more focused on our own feelings than really caring about those around us. Empathy is about realising, understanding and reacting to the pressures, issues or personal problems that others are experiencing. It is important as a project manager that we all recognise team members as individuals, and acknowledge that they have a life outside of work too.
Project managers not only need to know what they are doing, they also need to be able to give everyone else the confidence that they know what they are doing. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a technical expert in the industry in which you work, as the ability to seek advice and challenge current thinking is all part of the competency test. Remember, you are an expert in project management, and that’s what counts.
7. The ability to delegate
Of course, with the multiple pulls on a project managers time, it would be impossible to do everything yourself. Being able to effectively delegate to the right people and in the right amounts is all part and parcel of managing your people and resources. This means being able to trust in other people and their abilities, otherwise you will only end up micromanaging or simply doing all the work yourself.
As well as these seven qualities, ESI found that staying cool under pressure, having team building skills and problem solving skills were also important, and we would tend to agree that these are great ways to improve your project management skills. However, these seven were the most important qualities and should give you food for thought the next time you are in the hot seat; they could be your secret to successful project management.