The Wizard Behind the Curtain

The Wizard Behind the Curtain

The Wizard Behind the Curtain

Your Image and Its Effect on Good Project Leadership Focus

Project managers (PM) have an image problem. Many projects managers come out of the disciplines they now manage. Engineers become project managers of engineering projects. Systems architects become project managers of computer projects. They used to be subject matter experts (SMEs), but now they’re not. Now they manage, they lead.

The thing is, a PM’s primary strength and value comes from staying above the day to day implementation and keeping a perspective on progress.

The PM is the wizard behind the curtain. She has to be able to see when a project is in trouble and correct it as quickly and completely as possible.

Loads of people believe a person with the birds-eye view of everything should have plenty of extra time to take on some of the project tasks. That may sound good in theory but it’s a terrible practice.

For one thing, the project manager cannot be a subject matter expert (SME) in all aspects of the project. PMs and their leadership teams have to realize where their values lie – in leading the team.

If he is both team leader and task owner, the PM is managing himself in addition to the rest of the team. Aside from the added work, doing this is like self-medication. It yields spotty leadership and higher possibilities of bad task performance. It’s a bad idea.

When the PM is performing project activities, time and focus are diverted from their primary role in the team. And a team without leadership has a greater chance of going off the rails.

But let’s move our focus from the team for a minute. A big part of a PM’s role is managing the communications and expectations of the stakeholder community.

This is one of the most challenging, time-consuming, and risky aspects of project management.

Executive management and a good project sponsor can help or hinder the project manager’s ability to successfully execute the management of stakeholder relationships. Well defined processes, a positive corporate culture, and early stakeholder engagement allow project managers to spend more of their time managing the project rather than dealing with conflicting stakeholder expectations.

So what to do?

Get your stakeholders identified and aligned fast. Get clear about what the key stakeholders – and that includes your executive sponsor! – expects.  Check in with them because, well, change happens.

This way, you can keep a white-hot focus on managing the project and leading your team to success.


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