December 17, 2017


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Mindset of a Successful Project Leader

When comparing the qualities needed to be a successful manager (as shown in the Infographic below) with the characteristics of a successful project leader, and research analysis, there is much overlap.

Good managers tend to be natural leaders with a genuine interest in helping others. Not all project managers are natural leaders, but fortunately that is a skill that can be honed, especially when coupled with the desire to serve others.

Effective leadership is built on respect and trust. Leadership is critical during the beginning phases of a project when emphasis is on communicating the vision and motivating and inspiring the project team to achieve high performance. In a project context leadership is about focusing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team. It’s also the ability to get things done through others.

Guidance to the project team is given in the form of influencing, mentoring and monitoring, as well as evaluating the performance of the team and the project. Open communication is essential together with listening to your team’s needs.

It’s always in the best interest of project leaders to keep investing in their own development and growth. For professionals who are new to project management, check out the Growth Program for new Project Managers that will put you on a fast-track for learning how to become a successful project leader.


Inside the Mind of a Successful Manager:

Pepperdine University Online MBA Degree

Big Question: When Are You A Project Manager?

By Michael O’Brochta

When are you a project manager? A simple question; yet it’s being asked and answered by an increasingly large number of people. Indeed, project management was ranked in 2009 by U.S. News and World Report as the third-most valued skill by employers, behind only leadership/negotiation skills and business analysis.

More than 600,000 people from 184 countries are members and/or credential holders in the world’s largest project management professional association, the Project Management Institute. It is a question being asked increasingly by individuals striving to adopt the practices in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

So, how do you know when you are a project manager?

Why It Matters

The questions about being a project manager speak to core qualities associated with project management and project managers. These core qualities are far more significant than certification, or title, or position, or job classification. Indeed, it’s these core qualities that distinguish the great project managers from the remainder of the pack.

A survey of over 5,000 project managers and stakeholders conducted by Andy Crow and documented in his book ‘Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know that Everyone Else Does Not’ has provided an extraordinary insight into what the top project managers know and do that everyone else does not.

Alpha Project Managers

Alpha project managersThis study focused on identifying the best project managers (referred to as “Alpha project managers”) and then on determining what they did that made them the best. Opinions about these project managers were obtained from their team members, their customers, and their management. The results were quite pronounced. Although both the Alphas and Non-Alphas had similar beliefs, both believed in the value of planning and communication; the Alphas actually dedicated double the amount of time to do planning and double the time for communication. Alphas also acted as if they had authority, even when it was not officially bestowed on them.

Other characteristics have been identified for “real” project managers as well. Jeff Pinto in his research-based book titled: ‘Successful Project Managers: Leading Your Team to Success’ distinguishes between incidental project managers who hope to return to their technical fields and career project managers who which to remain in project management as a career. He reports that the career project manager will more likely have, or seek, a formal project management education, and have, or seek, experience in management and organizational skills. Attitude seems to be a distinguishing characteristic as well. Both Crow and Pinto found that career project managers actually enjoy their work more than their counterparts and that they make decisions to increase their opportunities to advance as project managers. They think and act as goal oriented, not only for the project tasks, but for their careers as well.

Discipline and Willpower

project manager characteristicsKnowing what to do is not the same as doing it. All project managers know about the value of planning, yet according to the Alpha study, only 2% do enough of it. Why? I think the answer has something to do with discipline and willpower.

It is interesting to note that recently published research by Kelly McGonigal in her book titled: ‘The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It’ supports the view that discipline and willpower can be learned and strengthened, much the same way a muscle can. This is great news for project managers who believe, as I do, that “project management is about applying common sense with uncommon discipline.”

For more about the essence of being a project manager, please read a fully referenced 6-page paper at: 


About the author:

when are you a project managerMichael O’Brochta, ACP, PMP has managed hundreds of projects during the past thirty years. Also an experienced line manager, author, lecturer, trainer and consultant and he holds a master’s degree in project management. As Zozer Inc. President, he is helping organizations raise their level of project management performance.  As senior project manager at the Central Intelligence Agency, he led the project management and systems engineering training and certification program to mature practices agency-wide. Recently he led the development of standards and courses for the new U.S. Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers. He also serves at the PMI corporate level on the Ethics Member Advisory Group where he led the development of an ethical decision-making framework.

Leadership Style – Servant Leadership and Communication

By Bill Flint

This article is part of a series of Leadership Style articles about Servant Leadership.

Servant Leaders Communication and Conflict Resolution skillsOne of the most common challenges in today’s work-place, is to find the time to improve on communication and conflict resolution skills.

Leaders complain about people being lazy or not doing their jobs right, or people complain about the leaders being so busy that they don’t have time to spend with their people.  The workforce complains their leaders don’t set expectations, don’t ask for feedback and don’t really care about them. Then we wonder why companies have a gap between their vision and the results they are achieving. Everything in life and business revolves not just around communication but the “right kind of communication.”

Communication is the # 1 problem in almost all businesses

Why is communication considered as the main problem in many businesses?

  • It keeps the people and the organization from reaching their potential.
  • It’s not because people aren’t talking, but in most cases, it’s the “wrong kind” of communication or a “lack of the right kind.”
  • People are talking at each other, but not getting through.

Servant Leaders and communication

What Servant Leaders have learned about great communication is:

  • Setting Goals
  • Helping people understand what is expected and why?
  • What they will be measured by?
  • Performance reviews—how they are doing, what are they doing well and the areas they need to improve on.
  • Asking people for their ideas and suggestions.
  • Providing, inspiration, encouragement and motivation.
  • Discipline
  • Conflict Resolution
  • I’m your “coach not your boss.” I’m here for you.

Servant leaders know it’s their goal to “help both the people and the bottom line  grow.”

It’s not an either or. You need both for a business and its people to build a sustainable competitive advantage.

Communication and Conflict Resolution

Servant Leaders need to realize about communication and conflict resolution: [Read more…]

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