They are known by many names, but the name itself doesn’t change anything.

What does a project manager do

They are the ones who set an objective, even if they have to divert the direction or to make a detour, they end up getting there. They are the ones who keep the team doing what they have to do in a safe environment and isolated from outdoor difficulties, while he/she fights to even out the way others will shortly step on.

They are the ones who lead in their role and share of responsibility and leave the rest of teammates (that are their team) lead in theirs (as the experts they are).

They are problem “solvers”, who stand up from their chairs when they see adversities come and face them in a proactive way to avoid worse evils. They are the ones who cut the “going off the subject” and define actions.

They are the ones who have the global vision of what they manage, they know how to fit all the pieces and are conscious that what may seem insignificant, due to the “butterfly effect”, can get to frustrate many plans.

They are the ones who enjoy doing and seeing people around them grow personally and professionally, because they know that every project is a temporary adventure with a beginning and an ending, from which they like to come out and see every participant come out renewed.

They are the ones that, whatever happens, are always there and stick up for you, without wiggling out or dodging about.

They are the ones who have to be able to talk with the technical team about specific tasks of the project, with the financial department about accounts, profitability, margins, etc, with the legal and purchasing departments about acquisition contracts, with the management and the clients about objectives, plans and commitments, and with anyone that can be influenced by the project or that can have an influence about how things are going, to keep them as informed as necessary and to get their support or minimize the impact of their actions or omissions.

They are the ones that create, manage and keep relations and they do it, not to get personal favors, but to reach the common objectives that are set.

They are the ones that act as a hinge, making initially unconnected and independent parts work together, and they are able to make something that seemed impossible look easy.

And all that, loyally following the code of professional ethics (equivalent to the code of medical ethics).

They are the project managers, the project directors, the project coordinators, the project bosses, etc. Everyone names them their own way and they don’t seem to agree which name is the correct one…

Independently from the name, what is clear is that what every enterprise needs are people with the characteristics, aptitudes and attitudes that characterize people who end up doing, successfully and  with recognition,  project management.

Who should not hold the title of project manager

In this group I don’t include those who have been promoted to project managers as a motivation incentive not knowing, the promoted one or his promoter, what the position means or implies, unfortunately an increasingly common practice in this profession that seems to be trendy.

Neither do I include those who suffered the “halo effect” and were named project managers because of the simple fact of being very good technicians and great experts but without having a single managing ability to help them in their new role.

And of course, nor do I include the project managers who were managers for a limited period of time because they, or people around them, soon realized they didn’t rise to the occasion.

I’ve met project managers who didn’t attend the follow-up meetings of their own projects where the team itself had to organize and take decisions on their own account and risk. Project managers who were unreachable the day the order of launching or delaying production needed to be given. Project managers more concerned about getting the next project with a higher wage and recognition than about closing the current one successfully. I’ve met these project managers and I’ve seen them quit or being invited to leave the post.

What skills should a good project manager have

That’s why the description of project manager I have started the article with might seem a bit romantic, ideal or exaggerated (specially because of the chosen image;), but I’m sure that if you find a project manager with more than 10 years of experience in the profession, carrying a list of successfully managed projects and with teammates (members of his/her team, other project managers or superiors) who back his/her work up as a project manager, in very few cases I’ll be wrong when I say that you will be in front of someone who will fulfill the description above. Someone who has what, for me, a project manager must have.

  • Global vision
  • General knowledge
  • Organization gift (what, who, when)
  • Honesty
  • Proactivity
  • Responsibility
  • Peoples skills
  • Leadership
  • Not afraid of change
  • And good people manager

If you are one of them, congratulations, you are a diamond for your organization. If you are on your way to being one, good luck in this profession full of challenges. If you are a member of the team of one of these project managers or you have one directing projects in your organization, I’m sure you’ll be one of those who acclaims: “NOT without my project manager!”.

The title of Project Manager might be trendy or popular nowadays but, titles aside, there is and there will always be a need outside every trend for people with the abilities and techniques like the ones that belong to good Project Managers.


This post has been written as a part of the initiative #PMIdeas “Project Managing, trend or necessity?”. In this link you can download the free e-book with the articles written by the 25 project managers that took part in this publication.

Image source: fondos-gratis.es

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