8 Traits of Top Project Managers – Part 1

By Garry Brinton, Contributing Columnist

At the beginning of the PSMJ Project Management Bootcamps the attendees usually list the traits of a good project manager. The list contains the typical references to technical knowledge but what is surprising is that the vast majority of the traits relate to soft skills such as good listening and good communication.

In my mind many of these soft skills may make a good project administrator but not a great project manager.

A top project manager exhibits these behaviors:
1. Decidedly independent thinking – everything is subjected to a reality check.
2. Practical, workable ideas – when you need them.
3. Innovative – with your gain in mind.
4. Confident without arrogance – can put people at ease.
5. Proactive – no surprises for you.
6. Honest – about what can and will be delivered.
7. Finishes strong – passionate and organized up to the end.
8. Instills a willingness for collaboration – by every member of the project team.

This article addresses the first four behaviors. In a few weeks I will discuss the second four.

1. Decidedly independent thinking
Project managers will have people telling them what to do, who to contact, how to get things done. They should consider all of this advice with a healthy dose of skepticism, and subject everything to a reality check. And their ideas should reflect an advocacy for your needs.

2. Practical, workable ideas
Project managers should be a “thought leaders,” among other traits. Their ideas should be worth following, now. What you really need are practical ideas and solutions that address the issues you urgently face. It is the immediacy that makes the difference.

3. Innovative, for you
Project managers should concentrate on your goals, not theirs. When they suggest something new and different it should open your mind (but not necessarily your wallet).

4. Confident, without arrogance
Project managers should possess that intangible ability to set people at ease. They should communicate with confidence that problems can be resolved, that things will work out. They also should know their limits and not venture into unfamiliar project territory without seeking experienced support.

Over confidence (even arrogance) happens when they take on work that stretches beyond the boundaries of their capabilities.

Article written by and courtesy of Garry Brinton, CFM. Mr. Brinton is Principal of FP+A, Inc. located in Harrisburg, PA. (717) 221-9700 gbrinton@facplan.com

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  1. 8 Traits of Top Project Managers – Part 2 « The Owners Rep ~ Richard Neuman

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