Bob and Alex hangout over the weekend with family and friends on an analog basis. Back on the airwaves, they bring up what the top leadership traits might be like in the world of project management.
Bob says that it is one of the hottest job skill sets now. He has worked in that role in financial institutions, information technology, and education. The list of traits looks similar to the more general list of desirable leadership traits we have discussed.
Inspiring a shared vision is at the top of the PM skills. Bob notes that it is part of transformational leadership. Alex talks about the importance of not only creating a shared vision but selling it to the full project team.
Good communication is not enough…you have to be a great communicator. This is largely driven by the fact that a project team is at its roots a matrix organization. Alex talks about having the ability to give criticism with the appropriate information and tone, and Bob reminds her of the need to be able to receive that feedback. Empathy is on the skill list as well, and in this case it is needed by both sides. The leader needs to be empathetic in the way all leaders do, and the team member needs to be empathetic toward the challenges of the leader.
A project manager also has to be agile in team building skills. He has to able to build consensus among all the team members. To do this he needs a visible sense of competence, not only in leadership skills, but in the area of expertise in which the project is involved. Just as important is for your sense of integrity to be visible and valid. Your actions must align with your words.
And to cap this all off, a project manager needs massive problem solving skills. There are tools to help you do the project related calculations and scheduling, but you must be able to offer alternatives that you can quantify while trying to stay on time and on budget.
Finally, Bob says that you have to be cool under fire. He quotes Warren Bennis and his concept of crucible moments. As the late Stuart Scott said, you need to be “as cool as the other side of the pillow”.