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5 signs that you have a great project manager

Colin Ellis | June 16, 2015
Hint: They manage well and people like them

When I ask CIOs or senior managers to name two great project managers, most struggle to do so. That is worrying when you consider that, according to Gartner, almost $4 trillion is spent on projects around the world.

Of course becoming a great project manager does not happen overnight. They do not just wake up, point at themselves in the mirror and say 'great' and that's it.

Similarly, it is not something that can be taught from a textbook in a classroom. As with other leadership roles, developing a great project manager starts in the hiring process.

Forget psychometric testing and requesting copies of method certificates. Instead ask candidates how they bounced back from a failure; how they manage project sponsors; or what original ideas they have to create great teams. Future stars will understand these questions and have their answers ready.

A great project manager needs to have experienced failures and successes in order to learn what it takes to build great cultures that deliver consistently well.

They will benefit from a strong mentor who understands the stresses, strains and challenges of the role and can support them in getting better and better at what they do.

Read the signs

So having hired a good project manager and provided access to the right knowledge to help them grow, here are the five signs that they are on the path to greatness.

1. They are well liked

Remember the old saying 'being respected is important, being liked isn't.' Rubbish. Maybe it was true 10 years ago, but not anymore. In order to get anyone to do anything for you, you have to be a nice person.

You have to speak to people in a way that they like to be spoken to, be clear about what needs to be achieved, be interested about their lives outside work and display a little vulnerability every now and again to demonstrate that you are human. A great project manager will do this.

They will always start the day with a 'good morning', the evening with a 'good night' and every question or interaction will be met with a smile and an easy going nature. The project area will be filled with good humour, chocolate biscuits (or fruit) and the table will never thumped.

Remember those projects that you enjoyed? It is because they were led by nice people who got the job done and who made you feel good about yourself too.

2. They take all the blame and none of the credit

In an ideal world blame would not exist in our working cultures at all. However, despite my crusade to ensure that projects develop the right cultures in which to deliver, I still see the evil finger of blame pointed like a weather vane in a hurricane.


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