5 Steps to Be an Influential Project Manager

As managers, success in any given project is often dependent on our ability to bring people together under a common goal. Of course, you don’t always have the authority to direct these people. A project cannot succeed unless it has the support of executives or clients. It is also more difficult to lead by authority because of flatter organizational structures, remote teams, and resourcing.
Influence is more powerful than authority. If used with tact, influence can help ensure project success and build credibility with colleagues. How can you be influential?
1. Learn more
This should be obvious, but it is important to have a complete understanding of the process in order to see the project through to completion. Learning by doing can sometimes be a good way to learn, but you should still have as much knowledge as you can before diving in. You will be able to better communicate your decisions and influence others to take the plunge.
2. Plan!
At the beginning of any project, you should create a plan that reflects your vision. Take a step back and look at your vision from a high-level perspective. Identify the strategic objectives and ensure that your plan includes operational and actionable objectives that will achieve each strategic objective. Although this plan is not final, it will help you to build consensus and influence your team members.
3. Your personal agenda is not important.
While influence can be a great way to advance your career, it should not be your only goal. If you keep your eyes on the best interests of your client or organization, others will be more likely follow your advice. If you place too much emphasis on building the power base or fulfilling subjective visions, you may lose the support that you need.
4. Play nice
Talk to all those involved in the project. Ask them for their opinions and concerns about your project vision. Not just their reactions, but their ideas are important. Too often, managers create and commit to a complex plan or process without consulting others. They then share it with their team members, mistakingly believing that they are cooperating. This leads to disgruntled team members, and even bickering over minor details. Bring a clear vision to the table and invite others to modify it or add to it.
5. Form a coalition
Rarely is one person able to be an influencer. Influence is stronger when multiple people are advocating for the same ideas. This is a crucial skill for managing laterally. Start early in the project planning process to determine who needs to buy-in. Are there any individuals who are more naturally influential? Which people will be most affected if your initiatives are implemented? Get their opinions and help you improve your plan. In the weeks leading to a formal kickoff, share your ideas and refine your plans. Ensure that they are kept informed and involved throughout the project. Instead of ignoring any problems that may arise, continue to seek their feedback.
What does influence look like when you combine all this? Start with a cooperative mindset. Focus on the client’s needs and be humble. Your plan should be based on the project goals. This will help you to develop a team spirit throughout the project’s lifecycle. Because they have had the chance to share their ideas before, your team will agree with your decisions. While there will be more difficult decisions, they will be easier.

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