A few days ago we were talking among several friends about project management. And to be honest, we were talking specifically about project managers, which is the most used term in Colombia, and their performance. The discussion, beyond the position, was about what qualities a project manager should have to be successful.
Without focusing on one particular company, a job description - job description- or certification, we all agreed that finding good project managers was no easy task. And, paradoxically, we found it incredible that this was the case, since we also considered those qualities as basic as having good reading comprehension or good writing skills for writing an email.
Project management for life
Some time ago I was a volunteer in Colombia and then for North Latin America (from Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, to Mexico) for the PMI® Educational Foundation. The foundation advocates the importance of having certain project management skills as essential life skills. The foundation also promotes the learning and appropriation of these qualities in children and young people. For my part, I worked with children, adolescents and people in conditions of social vulnerability - displaced by violence or natural disasters - in order to create and strengthen management skills that would allow them to organize themselves, work in teams, plan their work and, of course, be more successful in their undertakings. It is not for nothing that "every good entrepreneur is a good project manager".
But is it true that we should all have project management skills? Not all of us are going to be project managers, but we should all understand and value good planning, teamwork and be accountable for our execution. In another article I wrote about the first steps to start a career as a project manager.
We are all project management
Consciously or unconsciously, we all exercise project management in one way or another - and I'm not talking about the processes in the book. Imagine for a second what a project means to you.
For me, the projects are vehicles of change. They are instruments that allow us to modify reality. That is why many use expressions like: life project, degree project or, when undertaking an undertaking, it is easy to hear the expression ".I'm working on a new project". Projects are a natural part of life and allow us to evolve. Projects give us emotion and motivation.
If they are part of our lives, why isn't it something they teach in school? We don't know, some of us defend the idea that this should be taught in school.
Why are projects useful?
All people have ideas and dreams. Some people take those ideas and make plans to turn those ideas into realities. But only a small group is able to convene, align and make those plans happen and those ideas become realities. And for those in the know, plans are not the same as "timelines". The latter are the real project managers with their qualities.
Qualities of a project manager
If we all have ideas, then we all have the potential to be project managers and the need to be one. That's why we need to understand the role and qualities of project management.
Objective of a project manager
There is a popular saying: "If you want to go fast, work alone. If you want to go far, work as a team". The key word in the saying team. But teams are not just groups of people. Some authors believe that the major difference between a group and a team is primarily the strength of the relationships - work and personal. I invite you to read a paper published by Google under its initiative re:Work "Guide: Understand team effectiveness"..
Transforming groups of people into teams is no easy task. Teams require natural and fluid leadership, and people willing to maintain the north, the focus and promote constant effort. That, from my perspective, is the fundamental role of the project manager.
Regardless of the name, a project leader is one that functions as a enabler of a team's performanceAnd what does this mean? Many things and they all depend on the context.
Qualities according to the context
The qualities of a project manager vary according to the context of the project and the capabilities of the team. To explain my point I leave the following scenarios.
Assume a consolidated team of people, strong - as a team - and focused, but with little relationship with other groups or areas of a company. The project leader is likely to be someone who works directly or through others to strengthen that relationship, while supporting the team in communicating and communicating - sending and receiving information - with the rest of the organization. The qualities of the project manager will be more linked to politics, communication, the ability to concretize and transmit - to name a few.
Now assume the opposite, a group of people who have just met, some of them new to the company. From the project manager we are looking for clarity, to be punctual in the requests to the team and surely an excellent ability to plan the work, coordinate people and support them to integrate quickly in this new team. Critical qualities apart from communication, will be the detail to support the construction of plans, promote discussions and, in some cases, support the construction or detailing of requirements.
Seven critical qualities of the project manager
In both scenarios the role is the same, to get the best out of the individuals in the team and consolidate a team capable of solving the needs in time (timeliness) and with the required quality. Some qualities of the project manager that are critical to perform the role well:
- Structured thinking - ability to logically and meaningfully assemble a plan
- Time management - your own and your team's
- Negotiation skills
- Critical thinking
- Emotional Intelligence
We all need, at some time or in some context, a leader. And we are not talking about the boss, or the same person all the time. Leadership is valuable because it allows us to maintain focus, energy, spirit and coexistence. Good project managers can, at any time and when the situation requires it, take the lead.