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Creating the world class project manager

Silvia de Ridder
August 1, 2011

Implement technical competency model: Traditional training programs provide a foundation for knowledge, but a technical competency framework incorporates one-to-one skills mentoring, allowing for a more flexible, adaptive approach to technical skills development. The benefits of skills mentoring include improved project management capability, positive and direct impact on delivery, and earlier realisation of financial and qualitative benefits for the organisation, and focus on identified areas of improvement, recognition of development needs being addressed and personal and career development for the project manager.

Once project managers are effective from a technical perspective, developing their capability as leaders via a behavioural framework can be addressed.

Define behavioural competency framework: The development of a leadership framework needs to leverage the underpinning organisational leadership model, its values and culture. An effective model needs to consider the following aspects that underpin emotional intelligence:

  • intrapersonal skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • decision-making skills
  • conceptual thinking
  • ability to work across groups and teams
  • ability to leverage culture and internal political relationships
  • ability to be a change catalyst
  • customer perspective and service orientation.

Technical skills are pre-requisites, not the defining factor in a project’s success. Interpersonal skills, however, allow a project manager to deliver more consistently and take on larger and more complex projects. Well-developed interpersonal skills support a good project manager in effectively developing, motivating and managing a project team.

Enhance emotional intelligence: Frameworks of EI can be categorised into three main theoretical approaches:

  1. Performance-based measures of EI. These relate to an external appraisal of performance and aim to index individual differences in people’s actual emotional abilities or emotional knowledge.
  2. Self-report trait measures of EI. These relate to an internal appraisal of performance, a person’s preferences and styles in relation to emotions.
  3. Behavioural measures of EI. These relate to emotionally intelligent behaviours displayed externally. Authors of such assessments say a person’s actual emotional intelligence is indicated by the frequency with which that individual displays emotionally intelligent behaviours to others. Arguably, behaviour-based approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of EI provide the most practical representation of a person’s emotional intelligence skill.

Create and implement project leadership development: A defined behavioural competency framework and measure of emotional intelligence adds value when used and applied effectively. A person’s EI capability is more effectively enhanced through one-on-one development via a suitably designed coaching program. In contrast to mentoring, coaching is about helping people to learn rather than teaching them. It is a structured process that supports people in learning how to lead and manage themselves more effectively in relation to their context and their potential.

Coaching provides a framework for assessment, identification of development areas. While we cannot operate at a High Impact status all the time, coaching works to get us back into this state more readily through enhanced self-awareness and behavioural change, which contributes to improvements in leadership, teamwork, staff morale and productivity.

Development of project manager effectiveness by way of mentoring and structured coaching programs, including the development of emotional intelligence, can provide an organisation with a more effective return on investment, as well as attracting and retaining suitable candidates.

Effective mentoring and coaching produces significantly better results and effective project managers. People produce better work and for a longer period, and contribute to the organisation in many more ways. In addition, coaching and mentoring can enhance morale, motivation and productivity and reduce staff turnover as individuals feel valued and connected, all of which impacts on project delivery and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Author avatar
Silvia de Ridder
Silvia de Ridder is a qualified executive coach, project management specialist and an accredited consultant in emotional intelligence. As principal of Unconscious Potential, she helps individuals achieve their personal goals and helps leaders and organisations create and nurture high performing work cultures.
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