Project Management

6 Project Leadership Super Powers

From the Strategic Project Management Blog
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My friends and I will sometimes debate whether Superman or Batman is the more interesting superhero. Technically, I guess Batman isn't a superhero at all, he's just a very disturbed guy who has the ability to create some incredible crime-fighting gadgets that make him appear to be a superhero (he's my choice for most interesting superhero, by the way).

Superman, on the other hand, has a number of very incredible superpowers that make him more than a match for the average villain. The "Man of Steel" is too squeaky-clean and unbeatable to be really interesting in my opinion. Give me a flawed, kind of messed-up superhero for real "interesting" potential.

A couple of years ago I came across a list of PM superpowers that if added to your "utility belt" can help make you appear to have super powers. I wish I could remember where I first came upon the list, but these have the potential to make your colleagues believe that you are "super".

  1. The gift of foresight: I'm not suggesting that membership in the Psychic Friends Network is required, but being able to look down the road and make some reasonable predictions based upon practical assumptions is an important skill.
  2. Organization: I don't think this needs much explanation. Keeping information, schedules, and team members organized is critical. Fortunately, most project managers I now are very organized and detail oriented people.
  3. The ability to lead: Although there are some people who are natural leaders, basic leadership skills can be learned, practiced and improved. You might not read about it in the PMBOK, but there are mentors, leadership training and books you can find if an honest evaluation of your leadership skills finds you lacking. Leadership and people skills are, at the very least, as important as methodology and tracking tools. I happen to believe that they are more important.
  4. Exceptional communication skills: It's important to be able to communicate with everyone involved in the project from peers, to team members and stakeholders. Everyone needs different information presented in different terms. This is a skill that is vital to a project leader's success.
  5. Pragmatism: A pragmatic approach to problem-solving is a skill that is essential for a discipline that faces the regular adjustments and changes that face project managers.
  6. Empathy: In order to lead people, you need to understand them and what motivates them. Everyone is different and a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership is seldom the most successful approach. I'm not suggesting that project managers need to get all "touchie-feelie" and start tearing up in romantic comedies (not that there's anything wrong with that), but the old saw about "walking a mile in another man's shoes" might apply here.

In some respects, you'd have to be a little "disturbed" to work in a project environment in the first place—so you're already part way to being more interesting than Superman.

Oh, by the way, Superman or Batman?

Posted on: April 12, 2012 09:49 AM | Permalink

Comments (18)

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Green Lantern, but of the two choices given I'd say Batman too.

I'll add Influence to the list, although that could be part of leadership too. I am always gently selling someone on the reasons why they should do something I want or need them to do. Sometimes it's just influencing someone to be OK with a particular decision even if they don't agree with it or think it's the best approach.

Yeah, I think an influence Batarang would be pretty cool.


Nice one Josh, an influence Batarang...

Wonder Woman. She can deflect bullets and get the truth out of anyone.

Superman is kind of boring and he is anti-technical, relying on his physical skills. There is no organization skills. Batman takes what he is given and improves it. He is all about innovation. I would say though that his communication skills are a bit lacking, too moody. I am not sure about either's Empathy. Whereas, they are always saving people, they rarely take the time to get to know them.

Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Good article, as you my choice is Batman too because he's smart.

Very interesting. Batman always become super hero at the end. Thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing, good article

Of course, essential skills, among other. Thank you...

I would add transparency and Optimism. A great leader should not be hiding facts and be able to face difficult situations with a plan and a smile on his face.

good reading on leadership

Agreed with all points completely, very pleasant read indeed! Interesting enough, we had this comparison in our internal a few weeks ago, in the end batman seems a very unpopular candidate indeed, so naturally i suggested superman instead but not too long in the day, a rather ‘bad’ news broke, you might want to check this link out Therefore by default, it has always been wonder woman indeed, no question about that (dinah you may need to run a poll here! ;-) thanks for sharing!

Interesting article and very helpful tips.
Thanks for sharing!!

Thanks for this great article. I very much agree with it. And as they say, Batman - not the hero we need, but the one we deserve.

Superman or Batman? - Neither

MacGyver for the win! :)

Awesome article! Thanks!!! :)

Thanks for sharing this article, Interesting.

Batman is the more interesting superhero...but I have a soft-spot for Superman.
Personally Project Managers are like Batman, out of all the super heros, in my opinion, it would be awesome if we had even half of the resources he has access to though...Imagine what we'd be able to accomplish!

Neither one nor the other
Thank you for reflection and sharing

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