Behavioral attributes of successful project managers

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Having been in project management for all of my 40+ years of work, I have seen what I call "natural" project managers. Those who, given a task to accomplish, sufficient resources and a reasonable amount of time, consistently produce results. What is it about these people which makes them so competent at project management?

Restating the definition of "competency" from a variety of sources, one can say that "competency" is defined to be "the quality or state of being functionally adequate, characterized by marked or sufficient aptitude + attitude + skills + strength + knowledge”.

Knowing that having the knowledge can readily be tested (knowledge based credentials such as PMI's PMP, APM's PRINCE2 Practitioner or AACE's CCE do a good job of this)may be a start, but we also know that simply having the knowledge alone is not sufficient. Obviously enough, not all who hold their PMP are necessarily competent project managers. So what is the key element?

Believing that attitude is the key which differentiates the truly competent from the mere "wannabees", 4 years ago, I started working with Dr. Dan Harrison, Harrison Assessments, and his Global Manager of Sales and Marketing, John Suermondt. We crafted a pilot study consisiting of 28 practitioners who, based on my first hand knowledge and experience, I considered to be "exceptionally successful" project managers. This pilot group consisted of 50% men and 50% women, coming from Asia, Europe, North and South America. They worked in mining, oil, gas, general construction, IT and Telecommunications sectors, and ranged in age from 25 to 60.

The results of this pilot research were very interesting. We identified the following behavioral traits (attitudes) which proved to be reliable PREDICTORS of success as a project manager. In other words, these are the traits that consistently appeared strongly in the pilot study. (Ranked in oder of importance) 1) Takes Initiative 2) Enthusiastic 3) Good sense of business/finance 4) They want to lead 5) They are analytical 6) They handle autonomy well and; 7) They seek out challenges

At this point, I am seeking a company who is interested in taking this pilot research to the next step and/or an organization that is willing to fund further research on this topic.

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