In our discussions and writings about what it takes to be a complete project manager, co-author Alfonso Bucero and I believe personal skills are an important element in building a potent “molecule”. Complete project managers want the satisfaction of knowing they are making the most of their potential. Successful project managers usually have a winning attitude and a passion for their work. Under stress, they have no doubt about themselves. They have pride and strong self-esteem, and they have both a desire for and an expectation of success.
Winners are single-minded in setting and pursuing goals. Main goals focus on five or ten years in the future—and involve more than earning a good salary. You also need short-range goals for today, next week, and next month. Having goals increases your efficiency and effectiveness and makes it easier to make decisions. Without short term success there is no long term, so you need both.
Winners need to deal effectively with other people. Some do it intuitively; others learn it. They know what makes people tick. They really care about others. They are good listeners and are quick to show appreciation.
To advance your career, talk with a mentor, a senior executive who can guide you through the learning process and introduce you to associates. Another option is to meet with a good career counselor. Some achievers see relying on “professional help” as a weakness, but it can be a great help in maintaining a winning attitude.
Focus on Your Strengths
All project managers need to focus on their projects. However, customers and other project stakeholders tend to assume that you, as a project manager, are assigned 100 percent to their particular project. The problem is that people assume the same about the other projects you are managing at the same time. The level of concentration and focus at your disposal varies throughout your professional life and may increase or decrease depending on circumstances such as organization, environment, management, and customers.
How, then, should you focus time and energy as a project manager? Our suggestion is to focus 70 percent of time and effort on strengths, 25 percent on new things, and 5 percent on areas of weakness. Why focus on your strengths instead of weaknesses? Our answer is that you always will grow faster personally and professionally from your strengths. When you feel comfortable doing a task or activity, you believe in yourself, your self-esteem is higher, and the probability of extraordinary results is much higher. In those circumstances, you can improve your strengths even more, and perhaps put in a little effort to improve your weaknesses. But most professional education has focused on improving weaknesses. That effort is very difficult. It takes more energy, and the results are never really great.
With time and effort, you can improve your focus on your strengths. Here is how:
- Shift to strengths. Make a list of four things you do well in your job. What percentage of your time do you spend doing these things? Measure it. Sometimes your perception is wrong. For instance, you might discover that you spend a lot of time doing things that you do well. If you do not, spend more time on your strengths, and you’ll find your productivity increasing dramatically.
- Staff your weaknesses. Ask other people to do the things you do not do well. Try to learn from them. If you delegate work you do not do well, it’s likely that people will surprise you in a very positive way.
- Create an edge. Ask yourself what it would take for you to go to the next level in your main area of strength. What new tools do you need? Rethink how you do things, and be willing to make sacrifices.
If you struggle to remain focused, here are suggestions to get back on track:
- Work on yourself. Spend time with yourself every day. Do not worry if you only start with 15 minutes each day. Try to better understand your feelings. Be aware of the things you do well, ask others for feedback, and ask others what you do that is helpful to them.
- Work on your priorities. Start each day by prioritizing daily tasks. Five minutes early in the morning helps a lot. Do it with a cup of coffee. Be focused on the importance of tasks first and urgency second.
- Work on your strengths. Spend time developing your strengths. If you are good at delegating, observe the process you follow in order to do it better and better. If you are good at motivating people, try to know your people even better.
- Work with your contemporaries. Join positive people and those who are committed to improvement; your attitude will improve, too.
Englund Project Management Consultancy, www.englundpmc.com