Powerful Words

Project manager skills wanted

Disclaimer: this post is part of a series of posts I wrote back in 2013 when I was still on my typical corporate career path of managing often large-scale digital development projects and business change programs. Although, refocusing my career and starting Power-Words has been the result of an expedition to discovering what I am really passionate about, what drives me and what I believe in, my take-off on that journey definitely happened back in my project management days when I learned some powerful, often mind-shifting lessons … hence, I’m bringing my posts back, albeit to the bottom of my blog timeline.

Post 4/5 starts here

In my last post I questioned why a (Web/Intranet/IT) Project Manager should possess all those over-technical skills and knowledge, which all too many project manager job descriptions still seem to be asking for to this day.

Having concluded that it’s not the technical skills of a project manager that should be most wanted, it naturally got me thinking about the ones I think should be wanted – as the ones that contribute to a project’s success most.

Throughout my thought process and as I continued to categorise I ended up with no more than two main skill sets: project management and project leadership.

It may sound as if this is just saying that a project manager should have hard as well as soft skills – and as such will not be that surprising or ground breaking a statement, however perhaps the point I’m trying to make is that the hard skills of a project manager need to be in project management. No need to possess any hard core hands-on programme language skills or in depth technology specific knowledge.

What is project management?

The association of project management states: “Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.”

In other words managing a project is all about managing tasks, events and timelines as well as resources, budgets, risks and any issues that come up.

To do all of this effectively a project manager will have to be highly organised, a great planner and multi-tasker, skilled at prioritising and as I think simplifying. Ultimately, project management is about coordinating and directing, administering and controlling human and material resources.

What is project leadership?

“The best example of leadership is leadership by example. ” ~Jerry McClain

Max Wideman’s definition of project leadership reads as follows: “Project leadership is an ability to get things done well through others.”

To make it even clearer, I thought ‘through’ and ‘others’ could be replaced with ‘in co-operation with’ and ‘people’. So as opposed to ‘things’ such as tasks, budgets and events the focus of project leadership is people – the project delivery team, the project board, any other stakeholders involved in making it all happen, and often forgotten the project manager her/himself.

To manage the people side of things then a project manager will have to have be a great communicator, negotiator and influencer, have the ability to delegate, motivate and above all inspire a shared vision and roadmap. Ultimately, I think leadership is about managing one’s own attitude and state of mind, keeping positive, being self-aware and open to life-long learning, both from successes and failures.

“The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. ” ~Warren Bennis

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” ~Steve Jobs








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