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What Does It Take to Be an Incredible Project Manager?
By Michelle Symonds

We all know managers are nature’s ultimate multitaskers, but what characteristics do truly outstanding project managers need to have? If you’re already managing projects, you’ll know great communication and the ability to work to targets is all part and parcel of the job, but what about you as a person? Here we look at some of the character attributes that have bred some of the very best project managers in the industry.

  1. A natural command of authority

    Some people have just got it. Whether it’s the ability to hush even the rowdiest meeting and be truly listened to, or to influence even the highest ranking people in the organization, amazing project managers don’t need to try, it just comes naturally.

  2. Great skills in prioritization

    Project managers need to know what to take notice of and what to ignore. They need to be able to handle less emails and attend less meetings, whilst still keeping their finger on the pulse of how the project is going.

  3. Excellent questioning ability

    Exceptional project managers need to be able to listen to stakeholders and genuinely care about the communications that take place inside and around their project. They need to have a good level of self-awareness to understand how their communications are being received, and be able to probe stakeholders, contractors and other parties to get to the heart of the matter.

  4. Possess industry experience

    It is said that a good manager will be able to deliver a project, whether they understand the niche or not. Whilst in theory this is true, having experience in the industry and understanding the constraints and challenges facing the team will only make them better at their job.

  5. Strategic insight

    Being able to place their project in the wider context of the organisation they are working for, or in the industry as a whole, will help a Task manager to maintain strategic direction and focus for the delivery of their project. This is particularly important on agile projects, where their individual project may be a small component of a much larger deliverable.

  6. Networking skills and relationship building ability

    Great project managers will develop and cultivate informal networks both within and outside of the organisation they are working for. They understand that these networks offer them the support, knowledge and influence they need in order to resolve issues quickly and effectively.

  7. A genuine love of their job

    Great project managers need to not only enjoy their role, but to truly look forward to getting up for work in the morning. Many projects will require long hours, unsociable working patterns and high stress levels for at least some of the timetable, and without a true passion for the job, the business managers life could be a miserable one.

All in all, a person with exceptional management skills will be someone who can manage, plan and deliver all the difference facets of a project in a way that will allow those around them to relax. The very best professional PM training can help you acquire most, if not all, of these capabilities.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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