What are the most important qualities a project manager must have? Project management is a complex discipline that requires both a hands-on inclination and a knack for abstract thought. Although this may sound like a contradiction in terms, a great project manager meets these requirements and then some, as we are about to see.
A Problem Solver
A project is, in essence, a way to solve a problem. Therefore, it stands to reason that great project managers must be great problem solvers first and foremost. Steering the course of many processes and keeping tabs on many priorities at the same time is a complex task that cannot be tackled without sophisticated problem-solving skills.
A great project manager is curious and always asks “Why?”. This simple question allows project managers to understand the reasons behind every detail and any request. This, in turn, enables them to keep all stakeholders informed and up to date with accurate information.
Very often, the success of a project hinges on details. In fact, great project management consists to a fair extent in taking all relevant details into consideration and communicating them in a timely manner to the appropriate members of the team.
Sees the Big Picture
As important as details are, project managers should never lose sight of the project as a totality. They must be able to think ahead and foresee the future consequences of current decisions. The mental ability to zoom in and out to focus on small details or to see the big picture is one of the hallmarks of a great project manager.
Of course, this is a figure of speech—although there are project managers who do build literal bridges. Metaphors aside, a great project manager sees others (team members, stakeholders, suppliers) as potential allies, not enemies. This skill is important to any job, but it’s essential for project managers because their constructive attitude must never be in question.
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