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Top Ten Project Manager Traits (Part 3)

Top Ten Project Manager Traits
Project Managers

In the first of our blog posts on this subject, we looked at three of our Top Ten Project Manager Traits. Those were: Understanding, Planning/Foresight and Adaptability (see: www.project-risk-manager.com/blog/project-manager-traits-part-1).

Last week we looked at the next three character traits that make a good Project Manager which were: Attention to Detail, Communication and Passion. (see: www.project-risk-manager.com/blog/project-manager-traits-part-2).

This week we will consider the final four of our “Good Project Manager” character traits, which are:

Logic

Often underestimated, or taken for granted, logic is one of those character traits that most people pride themselves on having. But, so often logic is overridden by emotion, prejudice or preconception that the extent to which logic is usefully applied in decision making is greatly reduced. Good Project Managers have an ability to consistently apply logic by filtering out emotion and prejudice, and questioning preconceptions, whenever they are faced with decision making challenges. One could argue that being a good decision maker is one of the character traits of a good Project Manager, and this would not be wrong. However, an essential component in being a good decision maker is to have a strong grounding in logic. I have therefore opted to use the character trait of logic in place of good decision making in my top ten character traits as, without having a good grounding in logic, it is very difficult to be a good decision maker.

Resolve

Good Project Managers need to be resolute. Projects do not deliver themselves, and they are seldom delivered without a determined effort. Every project is likely to suffer a setback of some sort at some point, and most projects will suffer several setbacks at several points during their execution. Without resolve (or determination) many Project Managers will fail to achieve their project’s objectives while others will simply lose their ability to manage the project effectively. When faced with a setback, a good Project Manager will stay motivated and look for the best way out. There’s an old golfing term that goes; “It’s not about how well you play, it’s about how well you recover”. This is as true in golf as it is in projects. The world’s best golfers are the ones who consistently get themselves out of the rough, or out of bunkers, and still get down in under par. This doesn’t just require skill, it requires resolve. The same is equally true of the world’s best Project Managers. They do not let setbacks get them down, and they actively find ways to turn setbacks into positive outcomes. Few people will sit up and take note of a project that runs its course without hiccup but, when a project is fraught with challenges and setbacks, and is still delivered on schedule, within budget and without any LTI’s, that is when it stands out from the crowd. Now that is not to say a project that ran its course without hiccup was not well managed, it most certainly must have been. However, delivering a project without hiccup is a fairy-tale scenario, and we all know that delivering projects is not the stuff of fairy-tales.

Resilience

Being a Project Manager is sometimes like being a punching bag. Everyone wants to have a go at you at some point. Normally it’s the client, often the contractor and occasionally even your own sponsors! Good Project Managers are able to take the punches but, unlike punching bags, they occasionally punch back. No project is perfect and therefore no project is free from criticism. A project’s antagonists normally only have one person they need to take aim at, and that is the Project Manager. If a Project Manager wants to deliver their project successfully, they need to be able to take criticism from all angles and bounce back from it. This goes hand-in-hand with being resolute, but it is also about having the confidence in yourself, your plan and your team to not only withstand unwarranted criticism, but to adapt where criticism is warranted. When criticism is unwarranted, good Project Managers will defend their position, but not blindly or unconstructively. This is where the other “Good Project Manager” character traits of Understanding and Planning come into play. A good Project Manager will understand the drivers of their antagonists, and will have confidence in their own plan to be able to react productively and effectively. By doing so they will not only keep their project on-track, but may also win over the confidence of their critics. Conversely, if the criticism is actually warranted, then the character trait of “Adaptability” comes into play. As discussed in Part 1 of this blog, if change is required, good Project Managers are able to do so quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption to their project.

Discipline

Sometimes also described as being “Methodical”, but having discipline is so much more than just being methodical. In Part 2 of this blog (under “Attention to Detail”) I mentioned that projects are multi-faceted affairs, and keeping on top of them not only requires having a good team around you, but it also requires a good deal of discipline. It is very easy to get side-tracked on projects by whoever is shouting the loudest, and this is where good Project Managers need good discipline to keep their projects on track. Staying focussed, logical, resolute and resilient all require a good deal of discipline so, without discipline, these character traits can be seriously undermined. It is not enough to have any one of these qualities in isolation, as being a good Project Manager means having all the necessary character traits required to successfully deliver your project. Discipline is the glue that holds a project together and, in many ways, is also what binds the other character traits into a cohesive force that makes a good Project Manager.

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