The 4C's of an Ideal Project Manager

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Program and Project Management > Best Practices > The 4C's of an Ideal Project Manager

The 4C's of an Ideal Project Manager
Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry , Director, India, Premium Member
To be excellent, a project manager should be:
- Communicative - Communication is the artery of any project and information is the blood that should flow seamlessly. The PM has to be communicative to all levels of the organization who are involved. It is not just to be communicative, but communicate effectively the right information at the right time to all the stakeholders of a project.
- Collaborative - Projects are a joint intellectual effort of many minds. The PM should lead any activity in a project and should take a collaborative approach. For example when adopting this approach, the PM is involving the client in project activities from the beginning, indirectly getting a buy-in. It becomes easier for the client to take decisions in any activity and overall it saves time in the project.
- Committed - This can make or break lots of decisions and has a tremendous impact on the project, and on the relationships and trust between the PM and various other constituents. A PM, once committed to a deliverable or a milestone, can never go back. By sticking to a commitment he builds relationship and trust.
- Creative - Customers are quenched with creative meaningful ideas that help them to meet the business or competitive market needs. The PM should be in the forefront with creativity in dealing with client’s problems or requirements. Also, he should be creative in leading the team. Problems do creep in a project, but the PM should be creative with array of new ideas to deal with them.

Add Extra C's: Coordination and Concentration
Foure-Joopen Helga
The four C's indicated above could perhaps be complimented by two others which are:
- Coordination, and
- Concentration in a horizontal and vertical sense.
In this way, the manager's issue is oriented to organizational behaviour as well.

The Ideal Project Manager is a Leader
Peruch, Management Consultant, Belgium, Member
Mr Saasthry,
I like your points, what you tell us is that a good project manager should also be a leader...
I can agree with that, because a leader manages processes, and not projects.
Creativity, communication, collaboration are processes, and not projects. Commitment is an internal state, so not a project either.
I tried to explain your vision with some rationale for our readers. But you're right.
Best wishes for 2012.. It's still time...!

Add Extra C: Cool
Leonard Stewart
I would add another C: Cool, as in cool under pressure.
A PM must respond to many pressures with aplomb and consistency... another c.

Add Extra C: Caring
Asad Ali, Manager, Pakistan, Member
Agreed, but I would add yet another C for Caring, because it is one of the most important sources for motivating the team.

Establishing an Ideal Project Team
alice fernandes
Very good points are listed but very rare to find all of these in one person. Every person has some strong areas and some weak areas.
Hence when a project manager is selected, an assessment should be done of his strong points and weaknesses, and then a supporting team should be selected to cover for his weaknesses.
Then only can we have a good, successful project.

Caring / Empathy
Shankar Lakkaraju
@Asad Ali : I agree with Caring; without empathy towards "your" team nothing can be achieved. Feel that the team is working for you not for the company. I think this will take you a long way.

The Ideal Project Manager
Mohamed Hisham
It becomes clear reading the above that the subject of project management includes team work, leadership and motivational factors.
All these attributes are contributing factors to leading a project well.

Add Extra C: Couragious
umesh bahadur
Great. I would like to add courage in taking decisions and to stand up to criticism when things do not turn up as planned.

Frank Yost
@Asad Ali : I could not agree with you more. People are losing sight of what it means to be a true leader. What a lot seem to fail to grasp is that by taking care of those that work for you, you are ensuring your success.

Add Extra C: Centered
Macil Eddy
What about centered as in centered on the end goal, and not the project itself.
It seems that failed projects I have studied failed in part because the project itself became the primary focus and not the means to the goal.
This causes ballooning projects that overran budgets and defined scopes and never realized the goal intended.

Extra C: Cost Effectiveness
isaiah, Accountant, Kenya, Member
Cost effectiveness is also key. Cost-time tradeoffs are to be considered. For example, certain processes can be expedited at an incremental cost, but keeping overall cost within target.

Behavioural Traits for a Good Project Manager
Madan Gopal Agarwal, Business Consultant, India, Member
Good and useful summary of behavioural traits for a good project manager.
As such, any job needs technical / functional traits like knowledge, skill and expertise on one hand (collectively, referred to as capability) and behavioural traits and inclination (generally referred to as willingness) for its successful completion.

4 C's are Good, But Other Qualities are Needed as Well
Prof. Dr. Karl Kuhn, Project Manager, Member
I agree that these are prerequisites supporting project management excellence.
But they are not sufficient, because there is a need for some other qualities to become excellent too, i.e. time management, goal orientation etc.

To Succeed as a Project Manager
wil son chnyamurindi, Zimbabwe, Member
Over and above all else, the PM should visualise the goal, motivate himself/herself through interim targets, stay focused and determined; not be afraid of failure, and be an integral part of the team.

The 4C's of a Project Manager
Tom Smulders, Business School Marketer, Netherlands, Member
Very good points, I wish I had realized it earlier in my career. I understand now what the reason is that my company stayed too small over the years.
Especially, the first point (communication) counts for me the most.

Add Extra C: Customer Oriented
Mark Song, Manager, China, Member
I would like to add another C: customer-oriented. Sometimes most PMs would like to focus on products developing and training and packaging and product brand, but most of the PM's activities they should be customer oriented and always focus on the customer instead of focusing on the products they already have.
When they know their customers, they will know how the products should be, what the brand stands for, how the marketing strategy should be developed, and how the product strategy should be developed.

Ed: Mark, your point is valid, but seems to be included in #2. Collaborative...

Project Manager should be C-L-E-A-R
aurelian cojocaru
To complete the picture, there is also the CLEAR acronym for a project manager:
- Credibility - you have it or you'll never succeed!
- Leadership
- Evaluating - with fairness
- Advices - whenever asked
- Responsibility for the results
I believe this complements the 4C's as prerequisites for a PM.

Requirements for Effective Project Manager
Ioannis Chassiotis, Greece, Member
The above mentioned 4C's can equally apply to effective management & leadership in general.
And of course, project management requires qualities of effective management and leadership.
On top of this I could also add:
(1) Effective coordination of processes,
(2) Abilities in adapting to new situations,
(3) Effective problem solving in case of unexpected eventualities,
(4) Implementation of effective budgetary control,
(5) Coordination of vendors and chain management,
(6) Care for human capital.
In reality it is the exception and not the rule to find the above mentioned characteristics in one person.

Project Management Tools
James Kimani Mwaura, Manager, Kenya, Member
On a basic level, the project manager should also be able to use tools for project management such as Microsoft Office / Visio etc. for proper documentation, coordination.

Project Manager Traits
Shadrack Ashibo Atanda
I totally agree with the above C's.. enlightening! If I had known all this earlier, then my organization would have been further!

Project Manager and Transformational Leadership
Rannona A Rantao
I agree with the various comments on the required C's as ideal traits for a project manager.
I'd like to emphasize that the project manager as a hand-on manager should lean more towards transformational leadership.

Ad Extra C: Culturally Oriented
Roller Saint Pierre
What about "culturally oriented". A PM must understand the organizational culture in which he is operating. There are multiple relationships between the project and its environment.
A project can fail for not understanding both internal and external cultures.

On Extra C: Centered on Goals
Robin Lahiri
@Macil Eddy: I couldn't agree more.
In many organisations, especially where "project management" becomes a way of life or raison d'ętre for some teams, the project acquires a life of its own that has more to do with the need to justify the team members' existence than to the originally promulgated goals.
So, you get "projects for projects' sake".
The responsibility for heading this off at the pass lies with the project sponsor, or whoever commissions the project. He/she must constantly monitor the project manager's ongoing delivery and not simply delegate/abrogate responsibility.
This is where another of the "C's" is crucial, namely communication.

Add Extra C: Candid
Mohd Alduwaihees, Strategy Consultant, Kuwait, Member
I would like to add another c (candid) telling the truth in evaluating the different stages of the project. Also candid and nice in his/her treatments and communications with his/her coworkers, peers and leaders.

Ed: Thanks Mohd, your Candid could be seen as (partly) included in #1: Communicative.

Add Extra C: Coherent
Marco Brandimarte, Project Manager, Italy, Member
Coherence increases reliability of relationship and leadership. If a PM is coherent, it's easier for his staff to follow his guidelines: his energy is more effective.

Ed: thanks Marco, your Coherent is along the same lines as Candid, and could also be seen as (partly) included in #1: Communication.

On: Client-oriented
Nzuza, Consultant, South Africa, Member
@Mark Song : Mark, I agree.
As a project manager, you are employed by the client to help them improve their business, not to advance your own profit agenda. So, listening to the client, understanding client expectations *right upfront*, and constantly engaging the client on progress and development are the cardinal principles of project management and indeed consulting.
I have come across very self-centred PMs, sometimes with immature social intelligence. This means that they miss client expectations and get into trouble with the client.
Perhaps the worst kind of PM is the one who is too obsessed with their (or company) methodology and implementation approach to an extent that they alienate client methodologies and experience. Remember, the client knows his business best!

Consider Replacing Collaborative by Cooperative
I think, instead of, collaborative, you should put cooperative, because cooperative is larger and goes beyond collaborative.

An Ideal Project Manager: Before the 4 C's
COL SUNDER LALVANI, Coach, India, Member
I would rate leadership as the most essential characteristic of an effective PM. After all the PM is accountable for delivering the product/service at the right time, place, quantity & requisite quality via his/her team.
The next essential characteristic for the PM would be a high emotional intelligence. Needless to say, without a high EQ the PM would not be able to continuously keep the team inspired; which is an absolute necessity.
Thereafter would come the 4C's as argued by Mr. Saasthry who originated this interesting model and discussion.

Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry , Director, India, Premium Member
Thank you to all of you, it pays really to enrich our thoughts, and experiences, I am delighted with such inputs, we can work more, thank you so much once again.

On Extra C: Care / Caring
Maia de Lourdes Larrea
@Asad Ali : For Saasthry's 4 C's, the most important thing is to have behind all of these a high motivation of your personnel and all other people who are involved.
So I agree to add Caring.
Thanks for your information and for letting me learn more in this website.

Caring? Project Manager must be Passionate too
Bergmann, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
Talking about caring... from my point of view a projct leader must be passionately fighting for his project. Should he arrive in a project meeting with "tired eyes", what will the team think?

4 C's of an Ideal Project Manager
Andile Ace Kwakweni, Project Manager, South Africa, Member
Just about every "additional" comment and "counter" argument that flows from the original contribution by Mr. Saasthry, curiously, unpacks and builds on the latter beautifully. Reminds me of the Knowing-Doing gap by Kaplan and Norton.
In this case... Mr. Saasthry shared an idea/a good practice with lots of potential to boost organizations/projects, and for what it's worth, others expatiated.
However, I have a question for all of us... Do we do the same in our organizations? Is our interaction here microcosmic of what we do in the organizations we work for or own, or are we the first to fight a great idea to the bitter end because a colleague (not me) has a chance to shine through their creativity?

Extra C: Coach
Alexander Weihs
I like these 4C's and would like to suggest another one: coaching for team members and executives.

The Project Manager Should Be a Good Finisher too
I agree with many of above opinions. Additionally I think that the ideal project manager should be a "finisher", in other words, a person who completes the projects in all its aspects.

Ed: thanks Alberto, perhaps being a 'finisher' could also be considered as part of being #3: Committed.

Culture Matters
Ana Gonzalez, Mexico, Member
@Roller Saint Pierre : I agree. Culture is another C even though is not a characteristic itself (Ed: Cultural Intelligence might be!).
I work for a Business Group with 15 plants around the globe and let me tell you... The same project could be focused very different depending on who you are doing it for. At the end you have to sell "the project" and convince them why it would work that way.

Add Extra C: Competent
Oscar Pinto, Project Manager, Portugal, Member
I would like to add another C. Competent: a competent leader possess in-depth practical and theoretical knowledge to deal with situations in a background of conceptual understanding of technologies involved in the project, with “in-the-trenches” experience. This experience is essential to cope with the unexpected, a must in project management.

Add Extra C: Consistency
Kerr, Manager, Ireland, Member
How about consistent? What I mean is that a PM must always stick to the project management process. Don't be tempted to become a hero or make deals with the devil.
Just stick to the process consistently to get results.

Ed: Thanks for your suggestion, this should be considered part of #3: Committed.

The Human Part!
Maria Montero, Coach, Venezuela, Member
I agree with everything said here. In my short experience with project managers I have learned that most of them are very well prepared technically, but they usually don't have the skills to deal effectively with stakeholders, and at the end of the day this prevents them from reaching the goal on time and within budget.

4C + Time, Costs and Quality
Oscar Tobar, Consultant, Guatemala, Member
I agree totally with these four fields of a PM´s behavior, but supported with knowledge of the strict observations of the main controls to reach the goals of a project: time, costs and quality.

Ed: Thanks Oscar, I can see where you're coming from. Note that the things you mention are rather conditions of a succesful project than traits of an ideal project manager.

4C's are Keys to Success in Project Management
John A. Williams, Project Manager, Netherlands, Member
It's good to see that more attention is being given to the 'soft side' (relational and situational aspects) of project management.
In my experience these aspects are the keys to success in PM rather than the traditional rational aspects (methodes & techniques).

On Courage
Joel Nicaragua
@Umesh Bahadur: You are totally right. What we always find in the field are questions like: "Are you sure?", "Can you really do it?", "The risk is to high, do you really want it?"
You need to show that confidence and courage by saying "Yes, I know is going to be hard but I can make it real".

So.... The 12 C's of a Perfect Project Manager...
Ana Lilly Sander Padilla
I was reading all of your your comments, and I thought most additional traits that were mentioned are true. So we need to have 12 C's...
1. Communicative (incl. candid and coherent)
2. Collaborative (or Cooperative)
3. Committed (incl. being a finisher and being consistent)
4. Creative

5. Coordinating
6. Concentrating (in a h and v scene)
7. Cool (under pressure)
8. Caring (for team, passionate)
9. Courageous (decisions, in case of problems)
10. Centered (on end goal)
11. Customer-oriented
12. Cultural and Emotional Intelligent
Although in a practical mode, I think we should have just 4.
I think we agree that communicative, collaborative, committed and creative are still standing as the main 4.

Combine 4 C's of an Ideal Project Manager with the 7S as a Checklist
M Johnson, Management Consultant, Australia, Member
I like this. Perhaps the 4 c's could be combined with McKinsey's 7 S's in a matrix to provide a checklist for project manager self assessment.
(The 7 S's are strategy, systems, structure, skills, style, staff, superordinate goals (shared values). For example, a PM might ask the following questions relating to superordinate goals.
Have I fully and effectively "communicated" the project goals?
Was I "collaborative" enough in agreeing the project goals?
Is the project team "committed" to the project goals?
Am I being "creative" in developing project plans and solving problems so that the project goals will be achieved?
And so on.

Using the Cs for Selecting a Project Manager
nan zeng
In my opinion, it is necessary to determine the features or competencies a PM should posess by taking intoi account the qualities of other managers and team members.
Being ideal is just a goal for PMs to pursue.
However, being robust in 3 to 5 critical Cs would be good enough for a PM to manage a project. I may pick communicative, collaborative and coordinative. These Cs could be taken as criteria for screening a PM who does not have a power position, but relies on influence and for those who run projects with a complicated RACI chart including many stakeholders.

Caring - Passionate > Motivating
Anwar Saleem
@Bergmann: caring here doesn't mean pampering, caring here stands for motivating. When a leader is on the way of motivating his people, he knows he can't do it with tired eyes. Being passionate and caring is a (major) part of motivation.

Extra C: Conscientious
Reshma Sreedharan, Teacher, India, Member
The 4 C's mentioned are the core of being a successful project manager.
But conscientiousness is also an important trait needed in managers as it includes self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement.

Technically Prepared - Skilled
Anwar Saleem
@Maria Lairet: I agree, being technically prepared or being competent is a must, but competency is only one-third of the project management.
The second one-third is knowing the strategies i.e. the policies of the company, and the last third but the most important one is the one you said is often lacking, the skill to apply that competency and strategy to specific clients.

More Project Manager Traits...
Dilip Khanal, CEO, Nepal, Member
It seems that we are stuck with Cs as Shaastri initiated the discussion. I think being conversant with project management tools, strong monitoring, learning from mistakes and the ability to response quickly to changing circumstances are also noteworthy for a successful PM.

Caring & Passionate
Bergmann, Business Consultant, Germany, Member
@Anwar Saleem:
Yes, your are right. I agree with this meaning of 'caring' emotionality, passionately and in leadership/motivation. The project manager must be a front person, and must be motivate the project team.

Essential Traits in the Form of 12 Cs
@Ana Lilly Sander Padilla:
I think you summarized the discussion well in the form of 12 Cs. Each and every reaction posted here is really informative for all of us, let's use this intellectual capital of human (of course in the form of information) to bridge the gap between what we want to achieve and where we currently are.

4 C's in Practice?
Heather Jones
The C's sound good in theory, but how do they actually work in practice...

Creating Team Spirit
V SHRIDHAR, Consultant, India, Member
The 4Cs are definitely the most important qualities.
I believe also Caring & Cool are equally important.
I wish to add "team spirit " to the list. A true and successful PM will be able to lead only if he feels that he is a part of the team and can be successful only if all in the team work and nobody can be ignored.

Ed: Thanks for your reaction. Surely the ability to create 'team spirit' is really important. In my opionion part of C#2: Collaborative.

Managing Customer's Change Requests
Paolo Mazzoni, Consulente di Organizzazione, Italy, Member
All interesting and valid opinions. In my experience I think one of the most valuable is the PM's ability to manage the continuous customer's attempts to change important items of the project. It's a never-ending story...

Catalyzation ~ Caring
I would like to add Catalyzation which is very near to motivation process.
I believe it's more powerful than "caring".

Add Extra C: Concluding
Sam Oum, Director, Cambodia, Member
Concluding is also one of the most important C's for project management...

Ed: thanks Sam, nice suggestion. Can we say Concluding is already covered in #3 Committed?

Extra C: Current
John Moses, Manager, Nigeria, Member
In my own opinion, the list is ending. Apart from being communicative, collaborative, committed and creative, a project manager should be CURRENT with new developments and trends in his field of profession. This is very important so as to be value creating and value driving.

Thanks for This Nice Discussion
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Thanks Mr. Saasthry for the 4C's and all other contributing members for the Additional 8 C's (or even more). In my opinion this discussion of the ideal traits of a project manager was very good. To avoid repetition, this discussion is now closed.

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