11 Leadership Qualities of a Great Project Manager

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Good_LeaderYou have just been promoted to project manager. Congratulations! I’m sure it’s something you’ve been hoping for, for quite some time – and no doubt you deserve it. With that being said, there will be some adjustments that you’ll have to make. After all, leadership is nothing like what you have done before. Your acquired technical skills and taking orders don’t necessarily help when you’re delegating. Interpersonal skills are important. Without them, it doesn’t matter what project management tools you might have.

Before we start looking at those management skills, let me just make one point. Despite what some people might be say, leadership is not something that you’re born with. Leadership is learned. It takes practice, intentional learning and dedication. That should both be frightening and liberating. Frightening because it means you might just suck. Liberating because you may be bad at the start but that doesn’t mean you always will be. You can improve. You simply have to apply yourself.

Good? Now let’s look at those skills.

1. Convey the big picture

The first step of being a good leader is to realize that you are responsible for the big picture, while those under you are responsible for the nitty gritty. That means you have to steer the boat, without telling each sailor how to row their oars.

Yes, that’s right, that’s a metaphor for micromanagement. If you’re micromanaging, not only will the people on your team hate you, you won’t be able to keep your head above the fray. That will be bad for everybody involved. Focus on the big picture and making certain that everybody knows their place. Then let them do their part.

2. Build the team

Great leaders make other people better. Don’t simply lead, but give the people under you the opportunity to blossom. Allow them to become better at what they do.

This could include: hosting workshops, having regular discussions about what can be improved, or just sitting down and listening to what the team members have to say.  Do this without feeling the need to interject, interrupt or defend yourself. Ensure sure you’re doing it right.

3. Superior communication skills

When it comes down to it, communication is the key to being an excellent leader. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize how bad they are at it. There are lots of reports about companies who discover that their new graduates are exceedingly bad at communicating.  However, the graduates believe they excel at it. Resulting in them not improving their communication skills. Now obviously that’s a nightmare for both the graduates and the people they work with.

Don’t be like those graduates. You can always work on improving your communications skills.

4. Find the solution

When other people complain, leaders find solutions. It is very important that a leader solves the problem rather than fixating on it. This requires a certain amount of creativity and thinking outside the box.

Most importantly, it involves understanding who in your team is capable of what. As well, make certain that you discuss the problem with the right person. This person is more likely to give you a solution or at least the key puzzle piece that will help you find it.

5. Delegate

In fact, delegation is another one of those skills that you need to master. Delegation isn’t easy, let me be clear about that. It means trusting people to do their task. Additionally, it means knowing what everybody is capable of and what they are not.

This is not something you can do when the hurricane has hit. You need to start figuring all that out when the waters are still calm. So when the storm hits you know who is capable of what, so that the ship doesn’t capsize.

6. Optimism

You’re not the anchor that needs to be dragged, you’re the sail that propels the team forward. That means you have to remain optimistic. If not, it is like your are telling them that they’re not going to be able to surmount to the challenges ahead.

That sucks the energy right out of everyone.

Have a negative thought? Everybody does. Just keep it to yourself and instead focus on motivating your team on completing tasks, rather than complaining about how much they still have to do.

7. Set the example

How can you expect people to behave in a proper fashion if you don’t? Leaders are supposed to show how to be better. Yes, though that’s hard to live up to, that means don’t gossip, stay composed, don’t slack off and whatever you do, try not to give into your weird habits! If you do, then other people will take that as their cue to do the same and you won’t have the authority to tell them differently, without looking like a hypocrite.

8. Empathy

We want to know that when we have a problem we can go to our bosses and they will understand. If we don’t have that feeling then we might not even mention the problem. That can lead to all sorts of other problems down the road. For that reason make sure you’re willing to listen to your team.

Do not forget that everyone is balancing work and life, and may have some challenges outside of your business. Understand the needs of your employees.

Yes, that might be hard sometimes. After all, you’ve got a busy schedule as well, but if you don’t then you’re going to find yourself fighting off fires, when you could have just snuffed out sparks.

9. Remain composed

Never blow your top off, become overwrought, or flip out. You’re in charge, it’s unbecoming. If you start losing your cool, it’s going to be very hard for those in your team to maintain theirs – or, for that matter, to keep their respect for you.

So learn to breath, give a second thought to everything you’re going to say in a highly emotional state. If things aren’t going well with another person in your team, take them aside so that if words are said in anger, at least they’re between you and that person.

10. Passion

Be passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re not, how is your team ever going to be? Believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile.We like passionate people and are willing to follow them. That means that we’ll put in extra hours if it’s necessary. That will never happen if you’re just blasé and don’t really seem to care. So try to remain passionate about what you’re doing and where you’re going with the project. It will pay dividends in the long run.

11. Rise to your full potential

And finally, I’m going to say it again that leadership is a skill. For that reason, you can always keep improving to make yourself better at it. Never despair because you’re not great yet and equally never think that you’re the best you can be. Always assume there is something more to learn. There is some other way you can improve.

Concluding thought

As long as you keep improving, you’ll inspire your team to do the same. That means the work environment and results will follow suit. Which is ultimately what everyone wants.

Patrick Cole

Patrick Cole

Patrick Cole is an entrepreneur and freelancer, a blogger for several websites, and writing editor at Resume Expert. Patrick loves self-education and rock music. Connect with Patrick via Twitter.

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