August 22, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Musings
Lessons as a Project Manager
By Maris Leivategija
I’ve been actively starting, canceling and leading projects for about 6 years now. I’m one of those people who always has smaller and bigger projects happening. I’m constantly taking notes about what needs to be fixed in the world and how I could possibly find a solution for that.
This article will be a look-back onto how I have evolved my ideas about the profession – project management.
First, what is project management for me? Why do I define my professional self as project manager?
A project manager, at least a good one, is a certain type of entrepreneur. It’s someone who sees opportunities (= sees what is lacking somewhere and how it is possible to solve that problem), has the ability create a vision for the project, communicate it clearly and convincingly to everyone involved and knows how to mingle between the motivations of different stakeholders.
How in my view a project manager is different from a classical entrepreneur (or let’s say – a business oriented entrepreneur)?
While a good project manager should have all the skills of an entrepreneur, in my head it is different already by the fact that projects by definition have a start and an end. Us, project managers, are always looking forward to the end, to the results part.
Also, many times projects are not profit oriented, but are a way of solving a problem. The drive of the project does not necessarily come from growth or profit, but is more about having the best solution.
What have I learned so far?
- It’s all about the people
Any project you start needs people – people that have to buy or sell something, people that have to change something and/or people inside the project team. A great idea is necessary. A great solution for the world is definitely a good start. But it’s the people that you need to convince – not only that your idea is good, but mostly that you can really solve the problem and create value for them. Even if the value is the pure joy of working together with you.
All project managers have to fail to succeed
Good project managers are not born or taught. It’s impossible. The first time you lead a project, you make many mistakes. Each time you do a new project, you make many mistakes. It’s the only way to learn some very important lessons and, ironically, gain confidence. We all start out naive and blind. (Let me take this moment to thank my first employers, I can’t believe how lucky I have been to have worked with such great professionals at such a young and naive age).
Eventually you start noticing patterns in people’s behavior, and in the market. You start making connections between things that don’t have an obvious link between them. You become better as a leader, so that people will much more willingly cooperate with you, or even better – seek out for you with their own ideas.
The true core of what makes me thrive has not and will not change
I was raised (or I grew up) ethical, with high moral and socially conscious. I always wanted to work with things and people that create true value (not money) and that make the world a better place, at least a little bit. These people inspire me; these projects make me feel creative, energized and beautiful.
Even when I was still very beginner and couldn’t create much value myself – this is how I felt. I feel exactly the same today.
Today I feel very proud to call myself a project manager. Part of that conscience of a project manager is also the fact that I am not perfect, I will not satisfy everybody and I am always missing a piece of skill or knowledge – but that will not stop me from pursuing my vision and coming up with results.
Maris Leivategija is a Global Partner Coordinator at Project EduAction. You can read more from Maris here.
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