Project managers are multi-talented individuals.
Project managers are required to build and manage teams of skilled people. We also plan ahead and imagine the future to see what will or might happen. We manage stakeholders and difficult personalities, we manage budgets and financial records. We create risk registers and analyse issues and we problem solve. We keep things in order, filing and documenting important information to ensure it’s not lost or forgotten while we also plan, create and host meetings and events, gathering people together to help discuss and resolve issues.
Not every project manager will be excellent at each of these activities. Some introverted and shy people struggle with the stakeholder and communications side of the job, others lack the intuition and empathy that helps with managing difficult personalities and spotting up coming risks before they become issues.
In my own career, I’ve found that I enjoy the people handling side of the job, and find it a chore to wade through finances and to fiddle with spreadsheets and debate the details of contracts. I mitigate this by getting help from people around me that are better at those things. While I endeavour to improve, I’m pragmatic enough and realistic enough to know that I need help with these things, and so I get it.
Project managers come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s worth keeping in mind the variety of skill sets that a project manager must master, before discounting the skill of project management as something that’s not very important or central to the success of a project. The right project manager can have an enormous affect on the success of a project.