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What makes a good project manager?

By Kathryn Barrett
April 21, 2008 | Comments: 2

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Scott Berkun’s new book, Making Things Happen, and I asked people to post their ideas about what makes a good project manager. I said I’d arbitrarily select one winner from among those who posted and give away a free copy of Scott’s book.

Once again (it’s happened before) there were so many insightful posts that I’m having difficulty selecting a winner, even arbitrarily. So this time, I used a handy random number generator and selected ten winners from the bunch. I know I’m probably overlooking some brilliant and inspired responses, but there’s no way around it.

Here are the winning posts—oddly enough, they were all quite short! And I thank everyone who posted a comment. It was a fun discussion.

The great project manager manages. The project manager from hell micromanages.
John A Arkansawyer | April 8, 2008 06:22 PM

A great project manager deals with culture to serve people, not the other way around.
Etienne Segonzac | April 10, 2008 05:47 AM

This very old description describes the modern project manager (From Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching):

Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.

sharon twiss | April 10, 2008 09:01 AM

The perfect project manager has infectious passion for the project, has the capability to stay organized (and keep chaos from emerging), and has the ability to pick (and retain) the right team to help them.
Jennifer Davis | April 10, 2008 01:07 PM

A good PM recognizes that they succeed with the team and fail with the team. A bad PM will try to claim successes for themselves and will blame the team for failures.
James | April 11, 2008 12:57 PM

A good PM makes sure they have balanced the negative interactions with the positive ones — usually about 1:5.
Ter | April 14, 2008 01:27 PM

a good project manager is a leader. a bad project manager is just another manager.
wolfgang | April 15, 2008 09:34 AM

Based on my experience, good project managers are the ones who have been through the worst on the other end, and learned from those experiences as what not to do.
Brent | April 15, 2008 10:41 AM

A good project manager can prioritize work items, rally the team behind the project goals and deliver quality end results on time and within budget.
Annalisa | April 15, 2008 11:53 AM

I have worked with dozens of IT project managers, but the best one I worked for was a bear of a man with a heart of gold. He was gentle by nature but would fight for you and fight for his projects, but he had an interesting way of getting commitment to yes/no questions, “Imagine your house/car is riding on this. It the answer yes or no?”…..
erik | April 15, 2008 04:29 PM

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so to add my own and maybe sum up a few of the others..

"I'm not sure what makes a good project manager... but I will know it when I see it!"

A bad project manager is the one who prefers buttering over work.


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