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Why Project Managers Shouldn’t Wear Man Buns

I swear this has absolutely nothing with to do with the fact that I don’t have enough hair anymore to pull off the man bun.

Man buns should go the way of mullets, skinny legged jeans, Romphims (nothing should ever be touted as “The world’s favorite male romper”… like there’s more than one of them?), man purses, and safe spaces… but that is solely my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of Project Times, BA Times or another other entity I write for. Just me.

But come on. I see man buns on college students. I see man buns on creative types trying to start an art business in their parent’s basement. But a project leader managing projects for large multi-million dollar clients? I don’t see it. A consultant going into and organization trying to help them best figure out how to create their project management infrastructure for their company culture and industry? No… I don’t see that either. Why…not because man buns are bad or evil or ugly. No, it’s because they are trendy and likely to go the way of the boy band and “bro country” – offering no staying power. To me, they simply don’t exude leadership and stability.

Project managers need to appear to be in charge. Not caught up in whatever might influence them tomorrow or next week. They need to be steady, stable and… well… probably more boring than anyone who is going to wear a Romphim.

What does a project manager need to be? If you are staffing a project, are you looking for the leader who is trendy or the leader with stability, successes and a winning attitude? If it’s me – and I have been through this PM hiring process many times – I’m looking for these qualities and attributes (newbies take note)…

Calm enthusiasm.

You can be enthused… I that is an excellent quality. But over enthusiasm about being a project manager may be a sign of issues somewhere else. It’s not a job you usually will go wild over – it’s challenging and rewarding but you’re not likely going to be giddy and giggling over the concept. Calm enthusiasm and confidence is what the project manager should be displaying. It’s what will likely best manage a corporate customer and best manage a large project budget and project team.

Stubborn decision-making. 

I’m not saying that a project manager can’t change his mind if he finds that he’s made the wrong decision. If that is they case, then he needs to admit his mistake, and hope it’s not too late to change direction. However, without any evidence to indicate it may have been the wrong direction to take, he needs to stand by that last minute decision he had to make and show stalwart leadership going forward. Customer confidence is at stake. Team cohesion is at stake. When nothing is really telling you to do anything different, stick to your guns!

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Honesty and integrity.

Not that guys with man buns aren’t honest with a high level of integrity. I’m sure most of them are. The project manager must look it from the outset and then prove it daily as they lead a diverse team and client on long term technical and highly complex project engagements. Doing what you set out to do and say you’re going to do… that’s what is important. And that’s what will keep your team following you when times and issues get tough. And trust me, they will get tough.

Someone who can successfully manage the customer and their needs.

I look for some who can handle a corporate client and their hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent on projects that we will need to lead and keep them happy and confident for a year-long implementation. This means someone who is steady, stable, confident and usually with a track record of success though everyone has to start somewhere. With newer project managers you just have to take a chance on those who seem to have the qualities to perform and give you the right answers in the interview. So interview well and clip off the man bun.

The resume needs to show you know what you’re after.

For me, quantifiable information that shows you have either managed projects and understand the importance of financial and resource and time management that project management brings or you don’t necessarily have that experience but can provide something quantifiable from your past work history and responsibilities.

Project management is a lot about soft skills. But it is also a lot about managing the hours, the tasks, and the financial resources of the project. If your resume says you’ve managed projects up to $1.2 million, project staffs of a dozen resources and more, and projects with schedules that include as many as 600+ tasks then I understand you’ve tracked your numbers and you realize how important that information can be to manage on a daily project basis. If you haven’t done this before, but you’ve managed a department budget of $65,000, budgeted supplies for a business unit staff of 30+ people and helped forecast and manage a task order of $11,000 and 125 hours of effort then I know the money, time and effort side of the coin is something you have been responsible for and you know it’s important to show that success. That’s a good chunk of what project management is about. It’s about a lot more than that, but that’s part of the puzzle. Certainly if you can’t manage that aspect of PM, you will struggle immediately.

Summary / call for input

I realize that freedom of expression is important. But the need to look the part and act the part is also important. I don’t care if your hair calls for a man bun, but I’m not sure leading a multi-million dollar project for an important corporate client is the environment for displaying that chosen individuality. I am certain that PM of this nature is not the right environment for the Romphim… not even on casual Friday. In fact, look them up… I don’t think they are a product that should even have been conceived. Period. But I’m sure somewhere someone is wearing those right now. Unfortunately. Where they got their angel investor or venture capital I just don’t know.

Readers – what is your opinion of this list? What are your thoughts on the PM needing to show a certain amount of professionalism? And what does that mean to you and your workplace? Where are the lines? Are there lines?

Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He has been named the “#1 Provider of Project Management Content in the World” with over 7,000 published articles, eBooks, white papers and videos. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at

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