Top Five Characteristics of World Champion Project Managers

The 2014 FIFA soccer World Cup was incredibly popular around the world; FIFA claimed that a record breaking 1 billion people tuned in to watch the final between Germany and Argentina. While host nation Brazil was humbled by its 7-1 semi-final defeat at the hands of Germany, it was actually off the field where many people expected the host country to fall short – Before the tournament, media became focused on increasing concerns that the infrastructure needed to host the event would not be completed in time. Thankfully teams at the Brazilian World Cup didn’t have to play in half-finished stadiums (as many feared they would), however the country is still reeling from the overall cost of the event.

When a bidding country is successful, costs instantly begin adding up. A strong focus is often placed on the marketing front and funds are plunged into ensuring the event will provide a lasting legacy, offering a symbol of the host country’s strength. For example, the London Olympics logo alone cost $620,000. Yet preparing for the event itself can sometimes appear to have been something of an afterthought. As Brazil’s logistical problems showed last summer, before hosts get caught up in branding and marketing they should focus on making sure the infrastructure is in place to support the event.

To do this it is important to plan far ahead, which is when process project managers play one of the most important roles. For example, concerns are already being voiced about a shortage of PMs in Qatar as the country looks forward to hosting the World Cup in 2022. The fact that people are already worried about the event, with more than seven years to plan, shows just how important PMs are to ensuring the success of big events. Without them, it’s hard to imagine many super-projects being finished on time or on budget.

So what skills should organizations look for if they are going to secure a brilliant project manager? Here are our top five characteristics of world champion project managers:

1)    A good listener (who asks the right questions to stakeholders)
It’s important to avoid ‘yes men’ when you need a PM who will be able to ask questions that will move projects in the right direction. At the same time, they must be able to keep everyone on-side and respond in the right manner to feedback they receive.

2)    A quick thinker
It’s important to know what needs to be acted upon, and what can be de-prioritized. There’s almost always too much data, so learning what needs to be pushed to one side can make or break a project.

3)    A constant communicator
In the early part of a project this is the only deliverable people have, so it’s especially critical when things first get underway.

4)    An expert in a particular, relevant field
Generic skills are great, but it’s deep knowledge of the industry in which the project takes part that will really win the day. In addition to the ability to make better decisions, the PM should also bring valuable contacts who can help with getting work done and providing updates on developments in areas that might affect the project.

5)    An optimistic, but authoritative figure
These PMs have a natural command of authority, without needing the help of others. This combines well with an optimistic mind-set, which keeps people involved in the process, engaged and enthusiastic, leading to a much greater chance of project success.

How do you tell if someone is world champion project manager? Feel free to share the top characteristics you look for! You can reach us on LinkedInFacebook or Twitter.

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