Whether we realize it or not, professional project managers have the power to influence. The joke goes that project managers have all the responsibility but none of the power. While this may certainly be true in many organizations, we do, however, have the power to influence.
So where are the areas where project managers do have the power to influence?
- Customers. Regardless of what we may think, professional project managers have the power to influence customers. We can work with customers, get to know their communication and management styles, and as a result, their functional and nonfunctional requirements. From there, project managers are able to work with them to further their product or service development, and help them to even make decisions to improve them.Influencing customers to make better and more informed decisions related to their products will ensure their trust in your fellow project managers, or your agency or organization to execute successful projects that meet and exceed their expectations.
- Teams. Good project managers make exceptional leaders. The responsibility doesn’t stop at “management”. Being a great leader for your team is a key area where project managers have the power to influence. If you demonstrate a positive and professional attitude, encourage team members and fellow project managers and colleagues to succeed, and establish and maintain excellent relationships with customers, this will no doubt carry to team members.As a result, team members will want to adopt the same professional outlook, talent, and attitude and treat colleagues and customers with the same attitude.
- Attitude. This goes along with the point above. Project managers that display positive and professional attitudes will no doubt influence others. It could be as simple as smiling at another in the hallway, common area, or restroom, or as complex as volunteering to take on an unpopular, challenging project.
- Regardless of what small or large ways you choose to display “attitude”, it most definitely won’t go unnoticed. Influencing and striving to maintain a friendly, open, and encouraging work atmosphere will make everyone’s jobs that much easier and enjoyable. As a result, this will also lead to an increase and improvement in morale. Remember, positive attitudes are contagious.
Leadership is an important and admirable quality in a professional project manager. It is common to think that project managers just manage projects, customers, and schedules, but their responsibilities go beyond that. Most don’t even realize they do. While our tasks certainly involve these areas, we also have the power to influence others.
All in all, while most project managers feel like they don’t have control over most situations, they do have the power to influence. Influencing others, whether they may be team members, colleagues, customers, or even managers or supervisors, displaying a great attitude will be noticed by everyone, and they will certainly thank you for it.