What Successful Project Managers Do

Project ManagementI know I typically focus on the “hard skills” of successful project managers, but today I want to take a look at one of the soft-skills that a wildly successful project managers have. While it is important to constantly refine your planning and implementation skills regardless of the methodology you utilize and the projects you work on, we work with people and not robots or machines so you also need to continue to refine and develop you ability to work with and motivate people who are on your team as well.

I great up on a steady diet of Zig Ziglar. My parents understood the importance of a positive attitude and so they had us listen to Zig’s best talks on audio tape. I really loved his “Bisquits, Fleas, and Pump Handles” presentation because it demonstrates in real terms the power of attitude on your personal and professional performance. I still listen to this talk at least once a month while sitting at my desk and I swear I get something new out of it almost every time I listen to it. I am doubtful that there will be anyone who can motivate like Zig did — he was a once in a generation talent.

I was browsing talks and presentations that were given at the TEDxBloomington 2011 Conference and really hit home with me. Shawn Achor is a researcher and presenter who focuses on where human potential, success and happiness intersect. He also gives a really, really funny presentation while communicating some fantastic information. Shawn’s presentation is directed at how happiness inspires productivity. To improve your happiness levels, you need to focus on the present instead of potentials that are in the future. He has a process that can help you improve your gratitude for what you are experiencing, which leads to an improvement in your level of satisfaction with your current situation. Check out his presentation.


Positive attitude has always been important to me and you better believe that the attitude of your project team is just a reflection of what you are projecting at the time. If you are always despondent and doubtful about your team’s ability to meet deadlines and objectives, your team will start to feel they can’t hit deadlines or produce the features identified in the current sprint or work package. Your team will listen to you and take their performance cues from you.  liked Shawn’s presentation so much I bought two of his books — 2010’s The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology and 2013’s Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success. I will read them in the next couple of weeks and let you know what I think. You can also follow Shawn on Twitter at @shawnachor.

What role do you think attitude plays in your interactions with your project team? Do you think that a discussion related to positive attitude has a place in a dialogue related to professional performance levels?

Related Topics:
Cloud Enablement — How to Migrate to SaaS
SDLC — Software Development Lifecycle for Project Managers
Scrum and Timeboxing

About the Author

I am the author of this site, and what I say goes. I love talking about the benefits of formalized and professional project management and getting stuff done.