Q & A: What are the habits of successful project managers?


The question from Steve R. of Lincoln Nebraska is “What are the habits of successful project managers?”

Business leaderI think habits & propensities are one thing, but overall attitude is more important. Successful project managers have a lot in common with all good supervisors (sales, education, etc.) in any field.  Specifically, good project managers are first and foremost people oriented and quickly establish effective working relationships with their team members and colleagues.

One of the greatest contrasts between a project manager and an individual team member is the means by which they handle time. People who lead projects must be able to deal with frequent interruptions. Project problems, client requests, and other distractions never wait for you to become “un-busy”, so you need to learn how to drop whatever you are doing, happy & smiling, and refocus your (or your team’s) attention. Project managers who hole up behind ‘‘do not disturb’’ signs and lock their doors run the risk of seeing small, easily addressed situations grow into unrecoverable emergencies. Between urgent e-mails, telephone calls, frequent meetings, and people dropping in, project managers don’t by and large have a lot of uninterrupted time. You may need to schedule work that demands your focus before the full workday begins, or do it after everyone has left for the day. This is a significant part of being people oriented. Project managers who find that they are not naturally not characteristically open to managing others tend to avoid this part of the job and as a consequence may not stick with project management very long.

Below are other important habits of a good project manager:

  • Can be relied on to complete tasks
  • Take care of their teams (mentally)
  • Enthusiastically help and guide others
  • Are friendly and coexist with almost everybody
  • Are respectful and polite; high emotional intelligence
  • Stay collected, understanding, and thoughtful at all times
  • Can follow instructions and processes and instruct others to follow suit.
  • Stay positive and cheery
  • Comprehend and manage operational costs
  • Act and dress fittingly depending on culture