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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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1.5. The balancing act of project management

It is hard to find good project managers because they need to maintain a balance of attitudes. Tom Peters, in his essay "Pursuing the Perfect Project Manager,"(6) calls these conflicting attitudes paradoxes or dilemmas. This name is appropriate because different situations require different behavior. This means that a project manager needs not only to be aware of these traits, but also to develop instincts for which ones are appropriate at which times. This contributes to the idea of project management as an art: it requires intuition, judgment, and experience to use these forces effectively. The following list of traits is roughly derived from Peters' essay:

  • Ego/no-ego. Because of how much responsibility project managers have, they often derive great personal satisfaction from their work. It's understandable that they'd have a high emotional investment in what they're doing, and for many, this emotional connection is what enables them to maintain the intensity needed to be effective. But at the same time, project managers must avoid placing their own interests ahead of the project. They must be willing to delegate important or fun tasks and share accolades and rewards with the entire team. As much as ego can be a fuel, a good project manager has to recognize when his ego is getting in the way.

  • Autocrat/delegator. In some situations, the most important things are a clear line of authority and a quick response time. A project manager ...

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