There are certain aspects of project management that require talent – being able to spot a bad estimate, dealing with a hostile client tactfully, among other things. But there are a wealth of qualities that a person can bring to the table as a project manager that requires zero talent (and really not much experience either). I’ve picked my three favorites to explain why they are so important but also do not rely on a pile of talent.
Being a leader requires being a driver. As a project manager, it’s your job to push the team forward and be that leader. Leaders who bring energy to the team inspire others to be self-motivated. Some of the best leaders that I’ve worked with, regardless of skill, have brought an incredible amount of personal energy to the job that is absolutely infectious. Be excited (not excitable), show enthusiasm and focus to your team and they will return the favor. It’s almost impossible not to glean high, positive energy from someone who radiates it so as the leader, bringing that to your team each and every day is a step in the right direction.
Nothing shows your team that you don’t care more than being unprepared. One of my two leadership mantras is “never asks someone to do something you’re not prepared to do yourself” – this absolutely applies to being prepared each and every day. This takes zero talent, only drive. Know what meetings you have and ensure you’re doing your due diligence to prepare. Your team members are smart – they will pick up on leaders who have not done their homework and come unprepared and will take that as the measuring stick for how they conduct themselves which is the very thing you want to avoid. Saying “I don’t know” is acceptable but only if the question is one that was not expected to be asked – being a leader means setting the bar for your team and by coming prepared each and every day, you’re showing (not just telling) your team how you expect them to conduct themselves when it comes to preparing.
Nothing can be picked out faster by a team than inconsistency. Moving in a direction one day then moving in a different direction the next not only confuses your team and costs money and time but also sends mixed messages to your team and makes them begin to question your judgement. While it’s important to right the ship if a bad decision is made, it’s also important to make the team feel that your ship is going in the same direction. Your project will have a plan, and plans change however as a leader you need to stick to your ideals and goals, which should never change, even if the details on how you achieve those goals does. Be consistent with how you deal with people, be consistent with your decision making process, be consistent with your thought process and you will inspire your team to follow.