How To Be an Influential Project Manager

Influencing is a multifaceted skill that facilitates effective project management, team dynamics, stakeholder engagement, and successful project delivery.

photo of Prateek Tiwari
Prateek Tiwari

Senior Program Manager

In the realm of professional endeavours, influence holds greater power than authority. When wielded tactfully, influence can pave the way for project success while establishing credibility among colleagues. But how does one embark on the journey to becoming truly influential? This blog explores the key strategies and qualities that can help individuals unlock their influential potential and thrive in their professional pursuits.

Allow me to begin by quoting Kenneth Blanchard- "The key to successful leadership today is influence not authority."


Enhance Your Knowledge

In the pursuit of becoming influential, knowledge stands as the most critical element. For project managers, having a comprehensive understanding of all project processes is paramount to successfully seeing a project through completion. The greater your knowledge, the more effectively you can communicate your decisions and inspire others to join your cause.

Be More of a Strategic Partner Than a Task Manager

In the field of project management, transcending the role of a mere task manager and embracing a strategic partnership approach is essential for success. Shifting from a focus on routine tasks to becoming a valued strategic partner elevates the project manager's impact and contributes to achieving project goals. Here are the few pointers to consider-

  • Emphasise Value Creation: Align project goals with broader strategic objectives, ensuring projects contribute to long-term success

  • Seek input and collaborate with stakeholders to understand their needs, expectations, and strategic priorities

In recent times, I had the opportunity to be part of an innovative program that encouraged me to shift my perspective from inquiring about the timeline for delivering a particular feature to exploring the underlying purpose behind its development. This shift in mindset has proved to be invaluable, as it has enabled me to delve deeper into the "why" of our work, gaining a more comprehensive understanding of our objectives and how they align with our stakeholders' needs. As a result of these shifts in mindset and knowledge acquisition, I have experienced a noticeable positive impact on my ability to influence stakeholders.

Prioritising Outcomes Over Outputs

Shifting the focus from mere outputs to meaningful outcomes is key to achieving long-term success. While outputs refer to the tangible deliverables of a project, outcomes represent the desired results and impacts that those deliverables should achieve. Here are the few approaches to consider-

  • Outcome Oriented Project Planning: Incorporate outcome-oriented thinking into project planning and define clear outcome objectives. Identify the key results or impacts that the project aims to achieve and develop strategies to attain them

  • Value Delivery: Emphasise the value that outcomes bring to stakeholders and the organisation. Continuously assess the contribution of project outputs towards achieving desired outcomes

  • Adapting Strategies: Regularly review and adjust project plans and approaches to maximise the likelihood of achieving desired outcomes

Focus on What's Best for the Organisation

Maintaining a focus on what's best for the organisation is paramount in building trust and securing support for your advice. When your objectives are driven by the organisation's welfare rather than personal gain or subjective visions, you establish a foundation of credibility and influence. Conversely, when the pursuit of power or personal agendas takes precedence, your motives may be questioned, and the support needed to achieve success can be compromised.

Build Trust

Building trust involves creating an environment where team members feel comfortable relying on you, have confidence in your abilities and intentions, and are motivated to work with you. Here are few tips on how you can foster trust-

  • Encourage team members to express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of judgement

  • Celebrate individual and team achievements to foster a positive and motivating atmosphere

  • Encourage team to provide feedback on their experiences and offer suggestions for improvement

Demonstrate Expertise

The stakeholders/team are more likely to be influenced by you when you possess a deep understanding of the subject matter you are discussing. While learning by doing can be effective in certain situations, it is still essential to equip yourself with ample knowledge before immersing yourself in practical experience.

Becoming influential is a transformative journey that requires dedication, continuous learning, and the honing of essential skills. By developing expertise, enhancing your knowledge, developing relationships, leading by example, demonstrating empathy, fostering collaboration, and delivering results, individuals can unlock their influential potential. Embracing these strategies will not only ensure project success but also cultivate credibility among colleagues, setting the stage for professional triumph and fulfilment.

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