Four Characteristics of a Good Project Leader #ppm
By Brad Egeland - PM Expert and Guest Blogger
What goes into making a good project leader or project manager? If you are hiring a PM for your organization or project, what are you looking for? If you are a project manager, what characteristics do you possess that have made you successful or what characteristics do you wish you possessed?
I’ve managed IT projects for more than twenty years (both successfully and unsuccessfully) and I’ve watched colleagues manage projects (also, both successfully and unsuccessfully) during that same twenty-year span and I’ve formed my own opinions about what it takes to be a good project leader. By good I mean a project leader or manager who will win more than he loses, rally the troops well, make the customer happy, stay in the position for the long haul, and basically be respected by his management, team, peers, and project clients. For me, it comes down to four key characteristics. Please read on and consider your own experience and observations as I welcome readers’ insights and opinions on this topic.
1. Good communicator. First and foremost, the project manager must be a great communicator. They must be an effective and efficient communicator who can keep the project team, customer and management on the same page throughout the life of the engagement. I feel that this is Job One for the project manager. All key communications on the project need to originate or go through the project manager. The best comment I ever received from one of my team members was from one of my business analysts telling me that he received more emails and updates from me than any other project manager they were working with and he always felt like he was well informed and up to date. That should be the goal of the project manager.
2. Confident decision maker. If you’re leading a project you must be a good decision maker who is confident making choices at the right time and often with little oversight or direction from management. Sometimes a decision must be made that could have significant project impact, and if other key stakeholders aren’t available to aid in the decision, the project manager may have to make a tough call on his own. Now, that being said, the good project leader should also recognize those instances when more information is needed and too much is at stake to have one person make the call. That’s when they must know how to operate in the best interest of the project to delay the decision until the right resources are available.
3. Subject matter expertise. While this isn’t always an absolute necessity, it is very helpful for the project manager to have some experience with the subject matter involved in the project or projects they are managing. The best IT project managers I’ve seen have all had a technical background. The best construction project managers have a construction background. I believe the underlying principles of project management carry over from industry to industry and technology to technology, but the learning curve is the shortest and the productivity is the highest for those project managers with knowledge and experience that pertains to the types of projects they are managing. And definitely, project managers leading technical projects will receive a higher degree of respect from their technical project team if they possess a technical background from past experience.
4. Integrity. Finally, the project manager must be a person of integrity. Honesty is key. Walk the walk and talk the talk. It will be hard for any project manager to gain and retain the respect of his team if they see him being dishonest with the project client, omitting key information from executive management, not sticking to their word on things they have said they will do, or not performing their own work as they have asked and expected others to perform their work. Gain and keep respect. It’s key to a cohesive team and to customer confidence for the duration of a project engagement and beyond.
Call for response
How about you? Do you agree with these four qualities? Do you have more to add to the list? Please share your own thoughts and experiences as to what makes project managers successful or what they might be lacking that is causing them to fail too often?
Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 9, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.