To be a truly great project manager, you must be a strategic business partner fully vested in organizational success — and be able to roll with inevitable setbacks. Here’s how to stand out from the crowd.
Every project manager knows how to execute projects on time and on budget. And good project managers also take pains to consistently meet project requirements. But truly great project leaders go above and beyond. Not only do they execute projects within scope, they are accountable, strategic business partners fully vested in organizational success.
If you’re looking to stand out and take your project management career to the next level, the following traits of highly effective project managers will show you the way. Coupled with the necessary technical skills, these attributes will place you in higher demand as a project manager, providing a strong foundation that will enable you to adapt to the constantly changing dynamics of a project while putting your stakeholder’s needs first above all else.
1. Be a strategic business partner
Project managers who can offer higher-level strategic leadership skills, not just technical management skills, provide significant advantages for organizations of all sizes. These days, there are far more factors, both internal and external, that can negatively impact projects of all types. Such factors include triple bottom line (economic, ecological and social outcomes), legal and legislative restrictions, remote project issues, and international and cultural factors, among others. Factors such as these create additional complexities that a project manager must contend with, and if you don’t have a strong understanding of how your project fits within the overall company-wide strategic goals, you greatly hamper your chances of delivering effective outcomes. Executive Project Management Offices (EPMOs) focus on this connection and help to increase project, program and portfolio success rates.
2. Encourage and recognize valuable contributions
The success, or failure, of a project, doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one person. A project leader’s effectiveness is strongly impacted by the contributions of others on his or her team. Highly effective project managers share credit for work well done and encourage all members to participate and contribute at their highest levels. Rather than try to be a jack of all trades, leverage the knowledge and skills of others on the team. This simple but effective tactic will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving goals.
3. Respect and motivate stakeholders
A project manager’s ability to communicate with and influence a variety of stakeholders is paramount to project success. After all, you need to find ways to motivate workers over whom you have no direct influence yet who can make or break a project. Instilling confidence in the minds of stakeholders and sponsors is necessary, particularly if and when there is a need to approach them with changes in the scope of the project. You must demonstrate respect for team members, stakeholders, and sponsors, at all times if you are to receive their respect in turn. It’s almost impossible for projects to progress in the right direction and on time without respect and motivation, especially from sponsors and stakeholders.
4. Be fully vested in success
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.