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Secrets to Successful Project Management – the role of the Project Manager

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

This is the start of a new series of posts aimed at new project managers, or aspiring project managers. I share the secrets of successful project management.

What is the role of the Project Manager?

As the Job Title suggests, it’s to manage the project, and a lot more than that.

In this post, I don’t intend to cover methodology or management science; instead I discuss the Project Manager as the pivotal person who drives a project forward through leadership.

And in most projects, leadership is a vital ingredient. Because most people involved in a project require it to perform well.

Here’s a thought experiment: if you have been involved with a project before, imagine if that project had no leadership whatsoever – there was nobody in the center to rally the troops, kick people’s asses, and get participants to deliver under pressure. (Maybe your project WAS like that – I wouldn’t be surprised!)

A Project Manager, above all else, must drive the project forward and deliver on its objectives.

Let’s look at some of the key responsibilities of the PM.

  • A Project Manager sets clear objectives for the project team. Without these, how will participants know what to do, and to what standard? Like any Objective, they must be S.M.A.R.T. and they must also be understood in the ‘frame of mind’ of individuals, and this takes leadership skills to sense if people are clear themselves and have an unambiguous understanding of what is expected of them.
  • A Project Manager translates objectives into work packages that the project team will deliver. And in many projects, it’s about what the team has the potential to deliver, not what they can comfortably deliver. Once again, a PM has to draw upon their leadership skills to demand more from the project team than what is written in the job descriptions, because projects never go exactly to plan.
  • A Project Manager focuses on delivery. A PM has to get the project over the line according to the standards set. This can mean occasional long hours or heroic efforts. Comfortable participants, who want nothing more to get home to their families, need cajoling and motivating to step up. This requires strong leadership.
  • A Project Manager deals with successes and failures. And has to absorb criticism from stakeholders, but share the rewards. It can be lonely being a PM at times, when the chips are down, yet delivery must continue. A PM must shield the project team from unhelpful outside interference.

The role of a Project Manager is to be a strong leader!

Make sense? Or disagree?

Give your view by leaving a comment or starting a discussion in the forums.

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This post is part 1 of 3 in the series Successful Project Management
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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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