At what point do you become a Professional Project Manager? I started wondering this in a meeting with a client. We were talking about different people in their organization.
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Let’s start with an easier question…
Professionalism is easy to define. It’s a set of behaviors:
Anyone can conduct themselves this way. You don’t have to be a project professional. And it’s also true that a committed professional can lack professionalism in how they act.
The conclusion I have come to is that we become a professional when we make a choice. We choose the mindset of a professional.
There are many things that distinguish the professional mindset from that of an amateur. I want to focus on three of them.
An amateur mindset is to get ‘good enough’ at what you are doing. Good enough to succeed, to impress, to enjoy.
No professional would ever settle for that. For you, mastery is a learning process, not an end-point. Professionals seek out feedback to learn from and see setbacks as steps along the path. They commit to reviewing their actions and constantly honing their craft.
It’s easy to look at the surface of things. We believe today’s events have a clear meaning. But a professional looks below the surface to see the deep underlying webs of complexity. They see simple cause-and-effect chains as an illusion in all but a few cases.
Amateurs are quick to take credit for successes. But, professionals understand the interaction of preparation and fortune. They aren’t just smart; they are wise too.
And, looking forward, they want something more than being right. They focus on long-term end outcomes.
This long view informs all of a professional’s thinking. They have learned patience and care little for blame. They build infrastructure and capabilities, so everyone and everything around them gets better, every day.
And, if there’s a setback, they address it. And then they get straight back to building, where an amateur would lose heart.
However, if you plan to commit to a long-term career – in Project Management or in anything else – they are pivotal. They will start you on a journey that has no end. And that, in essence, is the mindset of a professional.
Are you ready to commit to becoming a Professional Project Manager?
Carefully curated video recommendations for you:
I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
Note that the links are affiliated.
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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