Professor of the Essential Topics for Project Management I (Stakeholders and scope) course in the Master in Project Management Program at the University for International Cooperation.
Recently I had the opportunity to teach a class about stakeholder management in which the students and I discussed the steps required to identify the people, groups, or organizations that could be impacted by a project. In fact, this approach makes a huge difference and it is a major contribution factor in the success of the project. Remember, there will be people ready to support and assist you (Project Manager) and others who may not want the project to be executed. Therefore, Project managers need to develop soft skills that will allow them to negotiate and communicate well. In one of the forums there was a reading called “Know Where Motivation Comes From” by Steve Chandler, -the students and I shared thoughts about how important is for a project manager to become a leader-.
In general, we know that leadership is the ability to get things done through others. Some students mentioned how difficult is for a project manager to lead his/her team because they simply do not take the time to know who their stakeholders are. Actually, there are some managers with some serious issues capturing what their team needs because of a number of reasons; one for sure is the lack of communication. Communication is essential to project success. Simply, communication is the art of expressing or exchanging information, ideas or feelings through messages including speech, gesture, telecommunications systems, publishing and broadcasting media among others. We need to keep in mind that a team consists of individuals with different characters, social backgrounds, religion beliefs, and can even speak different languages. Therefore, the project manager must carefully review his/her communication skills to be able to get and bring the right information to the stakeholders in order to achieve the project strategy goals.
As a project manager I am sure you have come in your mind with the following question: Why people are still not paying attention to my project even though I have been doing everything “right”?
Typically, as project managers, we are trained to control the three key project influences of scope, schedule and budget, and perhaps to understand the nuances of team dynamics. Moreover, great project managers do something else for them. They demonstrate passion to motive everyone creating an environment to meet project objectives, they develop negotiation skills to deal with conflicts, promote trust and respect, excel strong communication skills and the ability to balance what needs to be done regardless the complexity of the project. Most importantly, based on the experience and comfort level of the team members, the project manager can also develop high performing teams, the goal for the project manager under these circumstances is to become less directive and more facilitative – giving the team more and more capability to self-manage and be more productive. All of the above were what the class considered key elements of effective leadership and together we came up with the following out of the box mental picture:
Stakeholder management and leadership…”the perfect mix”.