Tuesday, 04 July 2017 07:03

3 Must-Have Skills for the Introverted Project Manager

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I am an introverted Project Manager. Hmm. You say, what does that mean?

This means that my personality type is an introvert and my professional vocation is Project Manager. To see the difference between an extrovert and introvert personality type, see the handy comparison chart below.

If the traits for an introvert describe you, please read on for the skills you need to succeed and grow as a Project Manager!

Basis for Comparison Introvert Extrovert
Meaning An introvert is a person who remains isolated or enjoys the company of few close people. An extrovert is an outgoing and outspoken person who enjoys being around and talking to people.
Nature Self-contained Gregarious
Think Think before speak Think as they speak
Time Spends more time with themselves Spends more time with family and friends
Focus Inward focused Outward focused
Friends Few Many
Change Do not accept change easily. Accept change easily.
Communication Openly communicate about themselves with people they know and trust. Openly communicate about themselves with anyone.
Concentration Deeply concentrate for a long period. Get distracted easily.

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As you are probably aware, being quiet and not pushy may give your colleagues the wrong impression that you’re a pushover or just have nothing to say. Also, you probably experienced the pain of your manager or another team member taking credit for your hard work. Let’s see how we can fix that!

Be Assertive in a Way That Works for You

If you’re like me, you are likely to keep quiet in a meeting unless you have something valuable to say. Unfortunately, that habit can lead others to see you as weak or ineffectual.

The solution to this is to have frequent one to one meetings with the company power brokers to update them on what’s going on with your project. In a one to one conversation, you are more likely to open up and will have the freedom to discuss things more openly. Once you do so, you will be seen as a thoughtful manager. The key here is to meet with the people that have power in your company. If they believe in you, then you will get the support you need, and other coworkers’ opinions of you will not matter that much.

A team member that needs to be nudged to complete their task is another situation where a one to one meeting is very helpful. You may be a quiet manager, and some folks will take advantage and not do their job. Speak to them individually and be firm. While an extrovert may berate them publicly, you don’t want or need to do this.

Leading by Example

As an introvert, I find it much easier to focus on my tasks and just get them done rather than get involved in thousands of things and never finish anything while loudly complaining about my workload. Sound familiar?

Turn this to your advantage by turning this ability into a learning opportunity for your team. When doing a task, mention it in team meetings and when it’s finished mention it again. In the meantime, let your team members see you working on the task quietly with no fuss. If you’re remote, mention it periodically in emails and IMs.

You won’t have an effect on everyone, but some team members will see how you consistently deliver what you promised with as little noise as possible. This can’t help but set an example for them.

Taking Credit for a Job Well Done

I wish I had a dollar for every time that a project goes to production and everyone gets the credit except me. That’s because, in the Western corporate culture, the loudest people tend to get noticed by management and thus get the credit.

As an introvert, you don’t naturally want to get in front of the room and beat your chest about what a great PM you are. What to do?

For starters, make sure you have a brief list of the challenges the team had to face and how they were overcome. Be sure they include things that you as the project manager had a hand in fixing. This will accomplish two things. First, your team will get the credit for the work performed. Second, by highlighting project management work, you will get the credit for leading the team through these challenges.

Next, make sure you mention some of these challenges and how you helped overcome them to the power brokers in your company during your one to one meetings. This will solidify their impression of you as an effective Project Manager.

Conclusion

There you have it. Three skills you must have to be an effective Project Manager while still being true to your introverted self. Above all, please don’t try to turn yourself into something you’re not, an extrovert. I’ve tried this route, and while I did have some success, I hated the way it made me feel about myself.

What tips have you picked up that would be helpful for introverted Project Managers? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Lee Grinberg

Lee is a Business Analysis and Project Manager leader in the financial services field.  He has extensive experience in requirements gathering, project management, and communicating with all levels within the organization.

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