On my training courses I joke that a Project Manager needs the following three qualities:
- A mild case of OCD
And like many jokes, there’s an element of truth in it.
- A mild case of OCD – attention to detail is vital
- Pessimist – being a step ahead of every problem
- Assertive – not agreeing to impossible projects, making sure everyone commits at the tart and then keeps to their commitments, resisting scope creep (or negotiating more time and money in exchange) however small each additional change is.
I think you really do need all three of the above. Or at least, you can’t be completely hopeless at any of them. For example, I’m good at detail, and pretty assertive when I need to be, but my Achilles heel as a project manager is that I’m too much of an optimist – and I know this. Optimism is a great quality for an entrepreneur, a sales person, and a trainer, so I’m happy to be an optimist, but I know it would be an issue if I was a full time PM.
How about you? Are you too Big Picture, too optimistic, or too nice, to be a Project Manager?
And then there’s the question of being an EXPERT Project Manager
Being an expert (knowledge) comes not from being clever, but from experience.
…which requires being:
- Old (done lots of projects)
- Make mistakes (the only way to discover failure modes)
- Good Memory (remembering all your failures!)
Again, I’m only partly kidding!
You could be young-ish but have worked on a lot of projects, and you might have made only a small percentage of the possible mistakes available to you, and forgotten some of them – but if you DO have access to an older person who bitterly remembers the many things that have gone wrong for them during their working career, remember to treat them as an asset!
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