What it takes to be a successful project manager?

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By Allan Amanyire BIT, CCNA, ITIL

Every Project Manager I know is asked the same question: What does it take to manage a project? It sounds like a simple question but I often fail to break it all down in the answers I give. How do you answer in the easiest of ways how to manage the critical constraints of Time, Cost and Scope. The answer might be varied but in my opinion there are some attributes that every project manager can’t do without.

Foresight. Good project managers are able to anticipate and head off problems that can jeopardize deadlines, budgets and user acceptance.

Organization: It seems like an obvious characteristic of a star project manager, but it manifests itself in a variety of ways, including an ability to stay focused on the big picture and to prioritize competing responsibilities. In most projects, there are so many things that have to get done that it’s hard to stay on top of everything and in control of everything. Being able to prioritize work for your team is a critical aspect of what a project manager has to do.

Leadership: Project managers have to interact with and influence a variety of stakeholders including their project teams and project sponsors. Since many project team members don’t report directly to the project manager, the project manager has to find ways to motivate workers over whom they have no direct influence and who can make or break a project. Project managers also need to be able to inspire the confidence of stakeholders and sponsors in the event the budget or timeline needs to be renegotiated or additional resources are needed to complete the project.

Communication: Successful project managers effectively use e-mail, meetings and status reports to communicate their ideas, get decisions made and resolve problems. They also understand that they need to discuss their project in the context of whatever is most important to their audience.

Pragmatic: Sometimes project managers can be too analytical. They analyze things to do before they move ahead, which slows progress on a project. Good project managers focus on getting work done with the resources available to them.

Empathetic: Project managers rely on others to be successful, project managers can’t effectively influence others if they don’t understand what motivates their stakeholders. They need to learn stakeholders’ concerns about a project, take those concerns seriously and address them.

Allan Amanyire is a projects coordinator at Interswitch East Africa (U) Limited, Plot 2B Nakasero Hill Rd, Kampala, Uganda, P.O. Box 7555, Kampala, Uganda. He has been in the project Management since 2010
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