Published on Monday, April 20, 2009
I thought that maybe I was done with this series, but I’ll probably truly never been done with it. The list can be about as long as you like it to be. I had to write more because I thought of one characteristic that really must be discussed: Stubborn.
A check on Dictionary.com yields a few definitions of stubborn…some don’t work for this article, but these definitely do:
I like these – they fit with what I’m trying to get across. The successful Project Manager will not be swayed, can not be influenced by others in to moving off the course he/she has been set upon in order to achieve the goals of the project. In this case, stubbornness is definitely a good thing.
When you’re working with a very talented team of technical experts, managed by a PMO director with other influences and priorities and not intimately familiar with your project, and working with a customer who has a very different set of priorities and influences, it can be very easy to be influenced into making decisions that you wouldn’t ordinarily make. All of these individuals have their own priorities, influences and even other projects that they are working on so while listening to their input is important and necessary - allowing it too much influence over your decision-making can be costly.
As the PM, the project is yours. It’s your neck on the line and your managing all aspects of it. You may have 3-4 other projects that you are managing – that’s just the nature of PM work, but they’re all important and all of them place the target firmly on your head. You’re in the same position as the manager of a major league baseball team or any team for that matter. If the team does poorly, you’re the first one to pay for it. It is critical to stay focused, keep the original project goals and milestones in front of you and in front of everyone on both teams and stay the course.
Listen Well - Act Cautiously
Listening is always a good thing – and it’s a very important characteristic of a Project Manager. A Project Manager who doesn’t listen is stubborn in a different way and is likely a bad Project Manager – and probably won’t last long. So listen. But keep the influences of what the other team members, managers and customers have to say in check. Develop a reputation for staying on track and managing your projects tightly. Ultimately, you’ll gain the respect of your team, your management and your customer and they’ll trust your decision-making. If you’re wishy-washy in your decision-making and have a history of changing your mind, not being organized, and ‘flexing’ too much, you’ll never gain their trust and respect and you won’t last long on the critical projects. In fact, you’ll probably never get the high-visibility, business-critical projects assigned to you.
Being stubborn is ok…in fact company management will likely find it desirable. The customer may be frustrated at first, but as the project progresses they’ll be happy with your style and that you’re taking their project so seriously. And your team may not know why, but they’ll find that they’re less concerned and stressed over your projects that they work on than with other Project Managers. They may not realize it, but it’s because they know the project is being managed well. And the professional feedback will come…in a good way…and you’ll be more likely to have continued success with the projects you manage.
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