Been a member of PMI has benefited me especially in pursuing a career fully in project management. However, looking back to the types of ‘managers’ I have worked with, I cannot agree less that leadership is a thought process. While some managers are slave drivers as explained by Alvin Lim productivity can be severely affected by the method a manager use when dealing with people. In no particular order, I will discuss in details.
Have you ever worked with a manager who could deliver a remarkable result but lacked human relationship management skills? Yes, the two skills set cannot be separated. Human Relationship and Technical Skills are inseparable if you must succeed as a project manager.
Communications skills: Coordinating a project requires managing information between several groups of people. Depending on the Structure of an organization, a project managers jobs would not be a walk in the park, not only does it demand frequent updating of all the key people on a project, providing information in a timely manner is key. One must also consider cultural and time difference, especially when managing virtual teams. Not long ago a scheduled a meeting with a mentor for 3pm Central European Time (CET). After waiting for about 15 minutes online, I decided to check again the detail of our conversation only to discover that it was 9pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) and that’s 6 hours away from my assumed time.
Leadership skills: The question whether leaders are born or made have attracted a lot of philosophers. And yes there is the Transaction Leadership style and Transformation Leadership Have you been employed by an organization where you felt you where been used just to make ends meet? No career development, not management responsibilities after several years on the same job! now yes that is a transactional organization, they are not bad people they just invest more in process and control. As a project manager, you must create a balance between these two.
Process and Change Management: If you do not like protocol, you may need to find a very good support to do your work. While process management requires a lot of documentation. ignoring only any key part of your project will eventually mar your project. One colleague shared with me about an ERP (Enterprise Resource Project) the company embarked on. After much work was done during the software implementation process, the end user process was not properly synchronized neither was there any user guild document created for the ‘user’, at the end, the project deliverable period was of course extended. You do not want to be the project manager that left the ‘users’ out.
Team building Skills: In Belbins Team role theory he identified the need for a team to have different people with different roles. If you have ever been in a team meeting, you know that one person who always want to go home. They are not bad people they just have a very short attention span. Let us not forget the Einstein, they are always coming up with new ideas. As a project manager, you will learn over time how to select your team by matching their skills, strength and weakness to achieve optimum performance.
Other critical quality you would need as a project manager includes Problem-solving skills, communication management, team building, emotionally intelligent and last but not the least, ability to work with the latest technology.
Most of the above skills require a period of time and exposure before it is acquired. If you feel you have a deficiency in any of these project management quality, please take your time, find an opportunity to learn and I promise you in due time, you will experience growth in your career and personal life.