We looked at some of the surveys and research about project management (pdf), successful project delivery, practices, processes followed by project management professionals. The findings emerged from these researches (like Pulse of Project Management by PMI and few other surveys points to significant contribution of and drive by star project managers. And I call him/her as Champion project manager. So what do these surveys and researches point to? Is it enough to meet timeline, cost and quality perspective of the project to be a champion project manager?
Project managers who consistently deliver projects on time and within budget and also meet or exceed stakeholders' expectations, are of course good project managers. But great project management requires a lot more than the ability to meet timeline, cost/budget constraints. (Also read Good to Great Project Manager)
The star project manager focuses on vision, peoples side of the project management, excellent communication; takes team building efforts to next level and so on, such that end user, sponsor, partner, management and team also has the satisfaction of delivering project successfully. Let’s see what skillset it takes to be star project manager or champion PM.
The star project manager is more than a project manager, s/he is a great leader. The project leader has clear vision of where to go, what needs be done; and s/he can put it in most concise, articulate manner. Leaders turn problems into opportunities, tap new possibilities.
The champion project manager has inspiring personality elements. S/he brings team members together and help them understand goals, objectives of the project, how team’s involvement is aligned with their own goals and stakes. S/he empower them, leverage their skillset and experiences to make the most of these to achieve goals.
Great leaders foresee the problems, identify potential risks and keep themselves ready to tackle those so that deadline, quality, cost and customer expectations do not get compromised.
Being organized is of course expected trait of a star project manager. But being able to organize artifacts, articulate thoughts helps greatly when a complex problem or chaotic situation is presented to them. Most of the times schedule is tight, there are budget constraints, resource constraints, customers are demanding, project team members also have some or expectations. Still one need to find the way out. Star project managers can get at right picture, complete picture, appropriately prioritize activities and decide about delegation, most appropriate contacts to get past the project.
Project managers are perceived as central coordinator for project and that is not totally untrue. Sponsors, customers, executive management and team members look for project manager regarding project update/status, etc. The star project manager rise above the-coordinator-role and drive the project, lead project team to achieve vision, meet project objectives.
If project team is totally new, star project manager sees this as an excellent opportunity to build a high performing team.
In certain situations project manager has to lead a project team wherein team members may not be reporting to project manager. The champion project manager has amazing ability to hold the diverse team together, acting as a cohesive or adhesive element to bind the team members with different skills, experience and aspirations to drive desired result as THE TEAM. If necessary, champion project manager does not hesitate to negotiate with sponsor to change budget or introduce rightly skilled/experienced resources in the project team. <Also read 6 Important Rules to Build High Performing Team> .
The star project leader never assumes that things will be all hunky-dory for a given project, every other time. In fact s/he is well aware that challenges will be there every now and then. Though s/he attempts to smooth out things, there is a demanding stakeholders, delivery bottlenecks, and so on – basically a chaotic situation.
There are plenty of reasons for project manager to get stressed, get pressurized. The star project manager tries to remain ‘Captain Cool’ in all these situations and look for opportunities in the problem, in chaos, in adversities. Since they are well aware that situation won’t remain like this forever. The best way to handle it, is to face it and change it with positive energy.
Their encounter with adversaries and experiences makes them a great coach, mentor for the team, for individual team member as well as customers and partners.
The star project manager never hesitate to ask right questions but s/he is also very good listener. S/he would effectively use technological aids like e-mail, collaboration platforms, project management software to communicate their points, ideas, set the process flowing and get decisions done, get issues resolved.
As I already said above, when it comes to negotiations, convincing partners, sponsors and executive management, his communication skills and conviction to do project related things forge the deal.
The champion project managers are competent enough to carry out ‘missing team members’ job’. Though he may not be all skilled or technical to do all activities of the projects but when situation arrives, he is ready to roll up the sleeves so that things will move forward.
I have seen project managers taking rigid or aggressive stand, justifying their decisions/stand with analytical mindset or high impatience. This causes deadlock, if not deadlock – on the contrary such behavior drives the project progress into slower tracks. Having passion and commitment is understandable but sometimes project managers tend to be unrealistic and unreasonable to see things moving in their own way, own speed (even bad - sometimes to meet personal goals).
Star project managers understand the situations, understand the limitations and focus on getting work done with whatever limited available resources. Star project manager is pragmatic, reasonable hence he is flexible to change his own stand so that project objectives will be met. No team, sponsor or partner would like to work with project manager who is constantly pushing things. Star project manager is realistic and understands people side as well.
First and very basic thing about project delivery is: it is a team effort. If a project deliverable requires simultaneous work with specialized skills; no matter how brilliant and passionate a project manager is, he cannot pull-off everything. Now if it is clear that as a project manager, we have to depend on others to deliver project successfully, we also have to understand ‘others’ better.
Star project manager knows, “I cannot influence others if I do not know what inspires them, what motivates them, what pains them, what are their aspirations, joys, sorrows.” Such PM understands nuances of team member’s, stakeholder’s behavior really well and act flexibly in accordance to drive the project. Even hearing their voices carefully means a lot to team members, partners. Star project manager will do every things possible and most appropriate to address their concern.
Star project managers are LEVEL 5 LEADER in their department for their own projects. It is not simple to walk this path. It needs self-drive, perseverance and constant learning.
Img Ref: coachingtosuccess.co.uk