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Personality Traits of a Successful Project Manager: A soft and strong approach

In our last post, we covered the negotiation skills necessary to manage projects successfully.

This post will outline the personality traits that allow project managers to get the job done.

Effective Communication, with an Understanding of the Biases of the Audience

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something.”

Wilson Mizner

Because many project managers have a technical background, communications are too often thought of as transmission of information. But it is not just about sharing key performance indicators on a regular basis, but an added challenge it is getting that information correct. There are three keys to effective communications: listen, listen, listen. Project managers need to turn off the transmitter for long enough to receive the information required to build effective project communications. People will tell you what they need, if you take the time to hear what they are trying to say.

Once the project manager has gathered all the facts, it is then important to share those facts with an understanding of the audience. The biases of a stakeholder audience will be different than the biases of the project team. Project communications should be designed with an understanding of what each receiver wants and needs to hear about the project.

Read our post dedicated to communications management for more details, including a full process.

G.I.P.S. and G.A.W.E.

“The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

The best project managers have what we call GIPS and GAWE: Good Interpersonal Skills, Gets Along With Everyone.

The effective project manager understands that successful outcomes depend on the individual actions of the people on the team and those who support and manage them. A project manager that instills a collaborative environment have more success than those that think it’s their way or the highway.

These interpersonal skills include fairness, openness, effective conflict resolution, handling difficult people, respect, honesty, coaching and support for your team.

The Take Charge Attitude

“Leadership is action, not position.”

Donald H. McGannon

Few organizations have a project management process well-enough defined that a project manager knows exactly what their responsibility for a project and power over it. As they say, it‘s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Many project managers find that this attitude is necessary in order to establish their leadership on a project.

It is the project manager who doesn’t wait for leadership to be given to them for them to take the best approach for achieving desired project outcomes. This was the attitude exhibited when Al Haig announced he was the Commander in Chief after Ronald Reagan’s assassination attempt.

Leadership is not only taken, but also requires some qualities to ensure support from the project team and stakeholders. This includes character, competency, commitment, creativity, and compassion.

Click here to read our last post on the attributes of a project manager.