Project Management Trends Favor Introverts
I’ve been researching trends in Project Management. Yes, the trends for Big Data and for Agile/Scrum are still out there. Fortunately for introverts, there’s also a big trend towards “humanity.” Meaning… companies are looking for project managers who have Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and they’re realizing that, regardless of the methodology, it’s the people on the team who make it happen.
Why is this good news? Let’s take them one at a time.
Sure, data is important. So are timelines, budget, etc. But in order to hit your milestones, to complete tasks so they don’t come back to bite you later on, you must be aware of the needs, agendas, and skillset of the people around you. When you lead a discussion, observe the faces and body language around you. Most of what is being communicated is not through words. If someone is sitting back and keeping their mouth shut, it’s your job to discern whether they don’t have anything to contribute, or if they don’t want to speak up for some reason. Then, if they don’t want to speak up, why is that? That quiet person may be the key to making a solid decision… or a big mistake that will cause time and money a few months down the road.
This is great news! As an introvert, you’re used to observing. You take in the stimuli from the room and naturally read the crowd. To be effective, you only need to lean into that ability. Make sure you take the next step and draw out the information you know is there. Pay attention to what doesn’t feel right. Use your innate skills to listen, redirect, and acknowledge contributions from those around the table.
Success Through Team
Anyone who has been on a team—great or horrible—knows that it’s not the methodology that drives success, but the team itself. A well-functioning team can handle changing requirements, challenging issues, shrinking timelines. Trust between players is paramount.
When it comes to personal relationships, you’re the champ. As an introvert, you don’t dance for the crowd, you get to know individuals. As you build your team, work on developing trust with each team member, but also between them. It’s not a given that folks in different areas (think Finance and R&D) will naturally blend or think they can help each other out with project tasks. Use your personal skills to bring them together, building one relationship at a time until there’s a web of trust throughout your team.
As the trends focus on EQ and Team, all leaders must keep in mind that gathering information, listening, and acknowledging aren’t goals in themselves. Not only is “paying lip service” contrary to an introvert’s nature, but it’s contrary to true leadership. What you learn by listening, and what you do with that information is what matters the most. Give your team the opportunity to put their good ideas into practice. This will benefit your project directly and give your team members the confidence to let their ideas be known in the future.