Wednesday, May 1, 2013

5 Things the CEO Can Learn From the Project Manager

Since leadership is part of the foundation of being a successful project manager, I will be writing a series of posts about the importance of leadership and best practices that project managers can utilize to grow from a manager to a leader.

Today, the CEO is the leader of the organization. In order to be an effective leader, the CEO needs to be in charge of the company in terms of where it’s headed, how it’s going to succeed over the year, five years, and beyond. Not only do they have to understand today, but they also need a complete view of the organization, the industry, the competitors, and the economy.  Sometimes, what makes the company what it is and what it can be can fall through the cracks.  

With that being said, according to Brad Egeland, a business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author, here are the five things that most CEOs can learn from the project manager:

Customer Management
Most CEOs aren’t closely involved with each customer or with customer management.  Handling each customer properly, assessing needs, and that their needs are met is what the project manager’s job is all about. The CEO that takes look at his customer landscape - not just the ones who mean the most to the organization’s bottom line - will play a role in those customers’ satisfaction and retention rate.

Financial Management
The CEO must be concerned about the bottom line financially at a very high.  With a staff devoted to the details, the CEO is typically only making very broad financial decisions. So, the CEO could learn a lot from the project manager who is responsible for the daily financial status of each project. The ability to focus on problem areas and make decisions for today – not just next year – could be beneficial for the CEO.

Resource Planning  
Resource usage is another area where the project manager could teach the CEO some lessons.  Resources are at the disposal of the CEO, but the project manager must plan resource usage so as not to cause harm to the project budgets. Smart resource planning and management is a key aspect of profitability for projects and for the organization.

Most project managers are faced with many negotiation points during each project they are managing. It’s a skill and a great business strategy and most CEOs could probably use a refresher course.

Asking Probing Questions
In order to get the project started on the right course the project manager must ask questions of the customer right from the outset.  It’s necessary to define the requirements of the engagement and to understand where the project is going, what the customer wants, and what their end users are expecting. The CEO is given lots of information, but to ensure they are keeping the organization on the right path, they must ask questions.

CEOs see the big picture and have to always be thinking of how that big picture affects their organization. And, the project manager is concerned about today and the immediate future of each project he is managing. So, the CEO could learn things from the project manager that would bring his or her view down from the 10,000-foot level to the day-to-day operations.  

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