Today, project managers are expected to have specific training and education (certification from PMI or a similar education provider, for instance). However, training doesn’t necessarily make a great project manager. While most of the requirements in this field can be taught, some things are inherent. If a person doesn’t possess some specific qualities, he or she might not be the best fit for this career path. Who’s a good fit for project management?
While leadership skills can be learned, great project managers are natural leaders. They excel in positions of authority, and they lead by example. Natural leaders won’t need as much borrowed power from managers or champions to get the job done, leading to a smoother process overall and a better chance for a successful project.
Questioners and Listeners
Good project managers know when to keep their mouths shut. They listen to their team’s input – after all, you brought them onboard because they had something valuable to offer. Don’t you think you should listen to what they have to say? Good PMs also know when to ask questions and how to ask the right questions. They ask questions that lead to better clarification, guide the other person to the right answers and instill confidence.
Communicate on a Predictable Schedule
All project managers must understand the value of quality, ongoing communication. However, a great PM understands the need for a predictable communication schedule. This applies to status reports, meetings and conference calls with management, stakeholders and champions, but it also applies to communicating with your team through team meetings, email and other methods. By having a predictable communication schedule, you also lend weight to urgent communications sent off the schedule.
Have a Specialized Education
Having a general education in project management is a great starting point, but it’s only a beginning. Today’s PM world is becoming more and more specialized, and to ensure that you’re able to be successful, you need to be not only willing to learn specialized skills, but adept at taking in new knowledge. In a way, you need to be a lifelong learner, always looking for new knowledge that will make you more successful in your role.
Excited and Motivated
If you wake up every morning and dread heading into the office, you’re in the wrong line of work. Great project managers are excited to start the day and motivated to see their projects through to a successful conclusion. Project management is a career path, not a “job”. If you’re only putting in the hours until you can knock off at quitting time, you won’t be particularly successful in this field.
The above qualities can transform a good project manager into a great one. Of course, there are numerous other characteristics and qualities necessary here. For instance, PMs should be observant, detail oriented and adept at resolving conflict within their teams. They should also be meticulous planners, flexible in terms of long-term planning and outlook, and accountable.