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What makes a Successful Project Manager?

May 7, 2010
  A successful Project Manager knows how to bring together the project definition, and control elements efficiently.  Sounds easy enough, right?  🙂  That means you will need to apply your leadership skills, and practice your organizational abilities to constantly look to the future.
In other words, if you’re exploring a PM position, or already have one, you already know of the skills, and theattributes for succeeding as a Project Manager because you have either worked for, or witnessed very good ones in action….and some not as good.  The criteria by which you will be selected will be similar.  Chances are, the project you’re assigned will have a direct relationship to the skills; you need just to do your job.  For example:
  •  Organizational, and leadership experienceAn Executive seeking a qualified Project Manager usually seeks someone who has already demonstrated the ability to organize work, and is able to lead others.  He, or she assumes that you will succeed in a complicated long-term project primarily because you have already demonstrated the required skills, and experience.
  •  Contact with needed resources.  For projects that involve a lot of coordination between departments, divisions, or subsidiaries, top management will look for a Project Manager who already communicates outside of a single department.  If you have the networking contacts required for a project, it will naturally be assumed that you are suited to run a project across departmental lines.
  • Ability to coordinate with a diverse resource team.  By itself, contact outside of your department may not be enough. You must also be able to work with a variety of diverse people, departments, backgrounds, disciplines, and skills.  For example, as a capable Project Manager, you must be able to delegate, and monitor work not only in areas familiar to your own department, but in areas that are alien to your background.  But, with trusted team players on your side, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.
  •  Communication, and procedural skills.  An effective Project Manager will be able to receive, and relate information to, and from a number of team members, even when particular points of view are different from their own.  For example, a strictly administrative manager should understand the priorities of an Engineering department, or a customer service manager may need to understand what motivates the Production Floor.
  • Ability to delegate, and monitor work.  Project managers need to delegate the work that will be performed by each team member, and to monitor that work to stay on schedule, and within budget. Just as a contractor who builds a house has to understand the processes involved for work done by each subcontractor, even if the work is highly specialized.  The same is true for every Project Manager.  It’s not enough merely to assign someone else a task, complete with a schedule, and a budget.  Delegation, and monitoring are effective only if you’re also able to supervise, and assess progress of what has actually been accomplished.
  • DependabilityYour dependability can be tested only in one way: by being given responsibility, and the chance to come through with the results.  Once you gain the reputation as a Project Manager who can, and does respond as expected, you’re now ready to take on a project.
These Project Management qualifications read like a list of evaluation points for every department manager.  If you think of the process of running your department as a project of its own, then you already understand what it’s like to organize a project; the difference, of course, being that the project takes place in a finite time period, whereas your departmental tasks are ongoing.  Thus, every successful manager should be ready to tackle a project, provided it is related to his, or her skills, resources, experience, and interests.
What trait makes you successful?
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