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What Makes a Good Project Manager?

06 Sep 2018
What Makes a Good Project Manager?

According to Professor Michael Porter, strategy guru at Harvard University, “project managers make things happen; they get things done; they manage change.” As such, they are frequently referred to as change agents. 

Project managers are found in every kind of organization - employees, managers, contractors and independent consultants. Careers and positions related to project management are prevalent across all sectors as the discipline is more and more recognised as a core component of management. It is estimated that there are some 55000 people engaged in project management in Ireland.

Project managers are results-oriented, can switch readily between the "big picture" and small but critical details, and work well under pressure.

They cultivate the people skills needed to develop trust and communication among all of a project's stakeholders: its sponsors, those who will use the project's results, those who command the resources needed, and the project team members.

As the pace of economic and technological change has quickened, organizations have responded by directing more and more of their energy into projects. The result is that these organizations are rapidly becoming more project-focused for success, and project managers are in increasing demand worldwide.

Career path options for project managers offer opportunities to become program managers (responsible for multiple related projects) or portfolio managers (responsible for selecting, prioritising, and aligning projects and programs with an organization's strategy).

What makes a great project manager?

Today, senior executives and HR managers recognize project management as a strategic competence indispensable to business success. They know that skilled and credentialed practitioners are among their most valuable resources. 

Being a project manager is a specific kind of leadership position, which requires certain character traits and qualities.

PMI Fellow, J. Davidson Frame, has conducted informal surveys of hundreds of project managers to shed light on the traits of great project managers. According to Frame, great project managers:

  • Have a thorough understanding of project goals
  • Are capable of understanding staff needs
  • Have a good head for details
  • Have a strong commitment to the project
  • Can cope with setbacks and disappointments
  • Possess good negotiation skills
  • Are results-oriented and practical
  • Are cost-conscious and possess basic business skills
  • Are politically savvy, aware of what not to do as well as what to do
  • Have a high tolerance for ambiguity.

People are looking to project management as a career option because they want career choices, control, and a sense of purpose. Career mobility is top of mind, and the associated upskilling needed to enable it has become more prevalent. If you want to become one or improve your managerial skills, the Certified Project Management Diploma course might interest you. Attending this course, you will acquire skills and behaviours needed to be a successful project manager and, upon completion, be a globally certified IPMA Level D manager.

A common denominator for all these professionals is that they rely on project management best practices, delivery skills, and techniques to succeed in their respective fields.