My love of project management was not intentional.
Like many people, I became an accidental project manager. My first taste of project management occurred when I was in consulting. We called that role an “engagement manager”. Looking back, all the tasks I did as an engagement manager are the same tasks as a project manager.
Having fully accepted my life’s work in project management, I have "put a ring on it" and made a commitment to the field.
What’s made me fall for project management is that it’s helped me build my confidence. Confidence has grounded my commitment as a project manager, flourishing my relationship with the work I’ve grown to love.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines confidence as:
1 a: a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances had perfect confidence in her ability to succeed met the risk with brash confidence
b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way have confidence in a leader
2: the quality or state of being certain : CERTITUDE they had every confidence of success
3 a: a relation of trust or intimacy took his friend into his confidence
b: reliance on another's discretion Their story was told in strictest confidence.
c: support especially in a legislative body vote of confidence
4: a communication made in confidence : SECRET accused him of betraying a confidence
Let's unpack definitions 1 through 3 as those definitions truly resonate with me.
a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances
Confidence is certainly a state of mind. I’ve learned to have the confidence that I am doing the right thing, making the right decisions, and leading my team to the best of my ability—and theirs. When I’ve witnessed others lacking confidence, they are paralyzed with making decisions, don't speak up, and lack the ability to provide direction to their colleagues. As a project manager, confidence is needed to successfully lead the team to achieve the project goals.
faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
Confidence is not about being conceited or arrogant. Confidence is having a belief that your experience and your skills are enough to get the job done. Confidence is knowing that you are making the right decisions, even when it may seem unpopular.
a relation of trust or intimacy; reliance on another's discretion
Lastly, I believe that confidence is about trust. As a project manager, you are the leader of teams which means part of your job is to inspire trust. Without confidence, you create the opposite effect – doubt.
There are many things that can shake your confidence when managing a project. The most obvious scenario is a project that is not going well.
We all hate to admit it, but it happens. All projects aren’t gems.
Sometimes we have to manage problem projects that present us with challenges every step of the way. When this happens, it is easy to lose faith and start to believe you are incapable of leading your team to the finish line.
I want to encourage you – stay strong.
There will be moments of weakness where you just need to scream.
My advice: go to your car and just scream. Yes, let it out.
Or for the non-screamers, taking a walk around the building, the block, or to the nearest ice cream shop will do.
Once you’ve aired your frustration, shake the dust off your feet, and go back into the office with your head up.
From my experience, confidence is infectious.
In the role of project manager, I’ve needed to inspire confidence among everyone involved in the project from the team to the sponsor or client and my stakeholders. They are all looking to me to set the pace and the tone for the project. When I don’t show confidence, not only does it compromise the project, but lack of confidence jeopardizes my entire team’s trust in me and my ability to see this project through.
As much as we’d like to be confident at all times, it’s been established that it can be a challenge, especially when faced with less than perfect situations. There is plenty of information out there on the Internet that provide guidance on building your confidence (just type “how to build your confidence”) and you will see many resources within seconds of your search.
What I’ve observed is that as I developed my confidence and made it part of my foundation as a project manager, my career has grown beyond measure.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” --E.E. Cummings
I’d love to hear your experience on building confidence in your career. What have you done to develop your confidence as a project manager?
Need some support in this area? The PM TALENT virtual group coaching program will be released on May 29, 2020. Go to www.mosaiclearninglab.com for more information.