Photo by Will Shaddock Photography 5 Oct 2015 View image

Project managers need a definite skill set to do the job properly. And more importanly they need the right kind of personality traits. Just having the right skills isn't enough to be able to manage the team they've bulit. Oh, and they need to know how to smile, naturally!

What does it take to be a great project manager?

There are qualified Project Managers and people who have been told by their boss they are going to manage a project as an addition to their day to day job (I see this all the time). Managing projects requires a skill set (planning, objective setting, budget control, risk and issue management, communication and people management) like all other jobs and a set of personality traits that are in my view more important than the skill set but in this case there is no need to have one without the other.

The Project Manager is the one who is going to deliver specifically what you have asked for using the resources you have allocated to them and within a timeframe you have agreed. If they haven’t got the skill set to do that, it will cost you more than the price of some training in project over runs and failures. Wise up here; don’t put your transformation deliverables in the hands of people who don’t have the tools to do the job! 

And you want them to have the energy and agility of Super Mario because it’s infectious and priceless.

Project Managers do not have to have technical experience or knowledge of the project they are going to manage (it’s a bonus if they do) because that will exist in the team, the team members bring that from their respective functions but they need to be able to get a team to deliver for them when they will not be their line managers (no authority).

Top 10 things a great Project Manager should be:

  1. Seen as a leader
  2. Able to win the hearts and minds of the team
  3. Enthusiastic and have a general lust for life
  4. Happy when all is not clear
  5. Able to juggle business priorities
  6. Confident about how and when to say NO
  7. Able to keep everyone working when things are going wrong
  8. Dependable so people know they can rely on you
  9. A trampoline for information (see, digest, act)
  10. A decision maker

If you can’t find someone who ticks all the boxes then in this case go for personality and personality traits over experience. A Project Manager with no drive may as well be an empty chair.

When asked, my fellow Monkeys said the most important attribute of our Project Managers was a natural smile ;-)

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