Leadership and management skills are those vital visionary and “can do” competencies so necessary when in a position to influence colleagues, team members, upper managers, clients, and so forth. The complete project manager possesses the lead by example, delegation, charisma, teachability, respect, qualities of leadership, courage, listening, and relationship building skills to interact with people and achieve results.
The thread that runs through all key factors that determine success and failure: PEOPLE. People do matter. Projects typically do not fail or succeed because of technical factors or because you cannot get electrons traveling faster than the speed of light; they fail or succeed depending on how well people work together. When you lose sight of the importance of people issues, such as clarity of purpose, effective and efficient communications, and management support, then you are doomed to struggle. Engaged people find ways to work through all problems. The challenge for complete project managers is to create environments for people to do their best work.
The complete project manager needs to be both a leader and manager—covering both what to do (vision) and how (execution). This requires placing a priority on understanding and listening to people. Lead by example. Demonstrate a positive attitude. Cultivate relationships up, across, and down the organization.
Identify leadership qualities that have made a difference in your life—people who have influenced you. Study what they did. Be the “teachable” student who continuously learns and applies a flexible approach to leadership.
Know yourself, believe in yourself, take care of yourself first, and then take care of others.
Complete project managers need to take responsibility, self-manage, and continuously develop their careers. Jim De Piante describes how a compost pile serves as an organic model for professional development, in opposition to climbing a career ladder. Through natural but ever happening processes, scraps turn into beautiful humus…but not without some stinky in between steps. By adding waste products such as manure (learning from bad experiences), the process is accelerated. The output, when added back into nature’s garden, is a bountiful harvest. You increase in knowledge and in wisdom, taking what is given to you by the sun and giving it back to the world that is illumined and warmed, also by the sun. In the end, you can do little more than pass on the wisdom that you have accumulated. Then you also become the soil. Progress is judged to be in what you have become, and not in how high you have climbed. Individuals become better people, managers, and leaders as you keep expanding your skills and growing.
Randy Englund, Englund Project Management Consultancy, www.englundpmc.com