The Five Faces of a Great Project Manager
People often ask me what makes an outstanding project manager. Based on my experience hiring project managers and project directors, and watching some succeed and others struggle, I believe a great manager is:
- An adjustment artist.Openness to change is sign of effectiveness, not weakness. It is adaptability to the world around us. Large projects are complex and surprises often arise. If you can’t shift course on the fly, you may head right into trouble.
- A skilled communicator. Project managers work with all sorts of people, including polar opposites who haven’t collaborated before. Good ones are objective and understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses. They listen. They are clear and don’t dribble out information on a “need to know” basis. They:
a. Talk to the development team directly, not just the project plan.
b. Interface effectively with the larger organization to meet its needs.
- A keen problem-solver.That’s all project execution is — solving one problem after another. The manager works with others to bring out effective solutions, gives everyone a 360-degree view, and helps prevent bad side effects.
- An experienced hand.No two projects are the same and there’s no better way to learn the pitfalls and nuances of project management than by doing it.
- A visionary of the parts and whole.Good project managers see the pieces and how they come together. They grasp the essence of the project — its role in the organization’s strategy — and use it as an ongoing frame of reference. They keep the big picture in mind while carrying out the day-to-day tasks.