Mastering the Project Manager Mindset: Foundational Skills

As I said yesterday, in my articles series mastering the basics of project management I used to focus on technical aspects of the work (e.g., tool, templates, or technique to help manage scope, schedules, and people),


Now, in the series that I’m starting today, we will talk about the social and cultural aspects of project management as the leadership, teamwork, negotiation, problem solving, and politics also have a significant impact on a project’s success. In this first article, let’s see the Foundational Skills that the project manager must have to be successful.

Though each project requires some unique technical skills, most projects share the need for a common set of foundational skills. Let’s see;

  • Leadership – You need to visualize the end goal in a way that attracts good people who join in the desire for your vision and want to contribute. In other words, the Project Manager must be capable to organize a group of people – the project team – to achieve a common goal despite heavy opposition.
  • Interpersonal Skills – It’s the set of abilities enabling a person to interact positively and work effectively with others. Development of the interpersonal skills of employees is a key goal of training and development initiatives for many companies, and is considered a constructive manner in which to handle office disputes and other personnel issues.  Though you’re not in a popularity contest, people will do more for you if they like and respect you than if they don’t.
  • Communication –  It’s a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management and leadership.The goal is alignment which can only come with understanding. You must opt for the most effective communications methods, which are not always the easiest or most efficient.
  • Situational Assessment – You need to grasp the context and significance of a situation and trigger any of a variety of corrective actions that might be needed. Situational awareness (SA) involves being aware of what is happening in the vicinity, in order to understand how information, events, and one’s own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. One with an adept sense of situational awareness generally has a high degree of knowledge with respect to inputs and outputs of a system, i.e. an innate “feel” for situations, people, and events that play out due to variables the subject can control. Lacking or inadequate situational awareness has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error. Thus, situational awareness is especially important in work domains where the information flow can be quite high and poor decisions may lead to serious consequences (e.g., piloting an airplane, functioning as a soldier, or treating critically ill or injured patients).
  • Problem solving – You must deal with the root cause of a problem, not just the symptom.
  • Quantitative methods – Manage by the numbers, not by anecdotal evidence. Require proof that the project is on schedule, on budget, and of needed quality.
  • Sampling – You need a “trust but verify” philosophy, which means you have to sample performance so you can give direction where performance is less than expected. Sampling means measuring units over time. It also means sampling quality as the project emerges.
  • A bias for prevention – Time spent on success is more inspiring and cost-efficient than time spent on problems. Implement practices that prevent problems.

If you master these skills you’ll be in the right way to be a very effective Project Manager. And a last advice: please, don’t be a Project Manager Zombie! 🙂


5 thoughts on “Mastering the Project Manager Mindset: Foundational Skills

  1. Pingback: Mastering the Basics of Project Management: The Complete Series (until now) | Nelson Biagio Jr

  2. Pingback: Mastering the Basics of Project Management: The Complete Series [Updated on March 11th, 2013] | Nelson Biagio Jr

  3. Pingback: Mastering the Basics of Project Management: The Complete Series [Updated on March 13th, 2013] | Nelson Biagio Jr

  4. Pingback: Mastering the Basics of Project Management: The Complete Series [Updated on March 18th, 2013] | Nelson Biagio Jr

  5. Pingback: Mastering the Basics of Project Management: The Complete Series [Updated on March 25th, 2013] | Nelson Biagio Jr

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