Running a startup is no small feat. It requires organization, dedication, focus, teamwork, patience, self-discipline, and hard work. The first step in setting your startup for success is making sure it’s led by someone who is qualified and competent. Granted, you could do without the smoke machines and stage lighting, but who doesn't want a 'Rockstar' team member leading their customer projects? Whether you’re looking to hire one, or find yourself wearing multiple hats and filling the PM role yourself, make sure that your project leadership demonstrates these 5 character traits to guide your business to success:
1. Effective Communication Skills
An effective project manager can communicate with others on the team in a way that is clear, focused, and encouraging. A project manager should be able to get others excited about the job at hand, and clearly lay out expectations, goals, deadlines, and responsibility for the project. A project manager must feel comfortable with negotiation, while also being confident in setting boundaries and expectations. The project manager you want on your team should be able to quickly adjust their communication style based on their audience, feel comfortable speaking in large groups, be easy to reach, listen more than they speak, and be approachable and open-minded to the ideas of others. A project manager could be an expert in their particular field, but if they can’t communicate with the team effectively, things aren’t going to move forward.
Your team needs to be able to trust their project manager. They are looking to this person as a leader and need to feel that he/she has their best interest in mind, as well as the vision of the company. The project manager sets an example for the rest of the team, and if they are transparent, accountable, dependable and honest, the rest of the team will follow behind. The entire team will be much more likely to go above and beyond in their responsibilities if they can trust the one leading them.
It goes without saying that to a successful project manager needs to know how to do their job. They need to be confident in the details and overall vision of the project. However, an in-depth understanding of the project at hand and the technical skills involved to move it forward aren’t the only ways to judge competence. The way the project manager handles stress and conflict, how they motivate others, how they find solutions to problems quickly, and their ability to pinpoint the strengths in others and use them to better the company are all significant indicators of how competent the person is at his/her job. Technical skills can be learned, but being a competent leader is a skill that separates the mediocre project manager from the all-star one.
4. Effective Stress Management
Eventually, the project manager is going to be faced with high-stress challenges or situations that need to be resolved quickly. A project manager needs to be able to multitask, as well as handle stress and conflict with grace, patience and a sense of calm. If the project manager is freaking out, the rest of the team will follow suit. A competent project manager should be able to keep his/her cool during tense situations, respond to criticism professionally, and be an example of how to stay calm during chaos.
5. Proper Delegation
There’s nothing worse than working for someone who makes you feel like you’re incompetent. Project managers who micromanage, hover, and make others feel like they can’t do their job are one of the main reasons for low workplace morale. A successful project manager will find the strengths in their team and use them to move the project towards completion. They will also find ways to break a big job into smaller, more manageable jobs so as to not feel overwhelmed or to overwhelm others. A rockstar manager is not the one who handles all the projects and juggles all of the tasks to the point of exhaustion. The sign of a real rock star is being able to get a job done quickly and effectively by acknowledging what the people on the team can do the best and motivating them to do it. Proper delegation makes everyone feel appreciated, trusted, needed, and a valuable part of the job. It builds trust between team members, which is critical in seeing a task to completion
The old saying “if you want someone right, do it yourself” doesn't always apply to small businesses and startups. In these situations, if you want something done right, you need to find a leader who can be part of a team and motivate others to complete the job quickly and successfully. A rockstar project manager isn’t the one who’s been in the field the longest or has the most experience. It’s the person who shares the vision and values of the company, who inspires others, who works hard and can see both the big pictures of the project and the details.
If you really want to launch your company forward, invest in the people who make it happen.