Project Management Fatherhood – 5 Traits of a great father

I’ve also always thought that there was much in common between the aspects that make a good father and good Project Manager. First off I want to be clear that I am not proposing that a project or team members are children in any way. I just think that the same traits that make a good father can make a good Project Manager. I also thought it would be an interesting way for me to acknowledge my Career Fathers who have taught me these lessons.

The Five traits of a great Project Manager

  1. Emotional Intelligence
  2. Care and Compassion for team and clients
  3. Decisiveness and confidence
  4. Principled and lack of ego
  5. Hard working and sense of duty

Emotional Intelligence – Brad Mundy

Emotional Intelligence and the ability to read the context of a situation and personalities on a team is invaluable. I still remember working with Brad multiple times. I was a young DBA who saw the world in very black and white tones. Brad was a seasoned Project Manager who diligently read the situation and patiently proposed actions after consultation with the team and client. I was often impatient with progress on the project and Brad’s leadership was key in ensuring the entire team was pulling in the right direction. His collaboration skills and ability to read the context of a situation was masterful. I see now in the wisdom of my years how now projects are black and white but all are just shades of grey.

Care and Compassion for team and clients – Corinne Flaws

Every time I work with a great Project Manager, one thing is consistent. They really care for the project, project team, and clients. They don’t look at project team and client issues as just things to be solved. They are honestly upset when either the client or project team members are not satisfied. They are upset when things go wrong and are happy when the project is doing well. I mean, really happy. If you ever want a weathervane for a great Project Manager, just look for whether the Project Manager is happy or sad based on the project. Great Project Managers never look at their career as just a job. The truly great ones never let their caring be perceived as a wavering of confidence in the project as well, just that it is a tough week and we will rebound. Corinne Flaws really showed me this trait by example on the Client Statement project we were both on. She also taught that being right doesn’t count for much if it hurts the project and the team. Her compassion and care for the team and the clients are something I try to live up to on every project I am on.

Decisiveness and Confidence – Jacek Hunek

Balanced with the Emotional Intelligence and Compassion is the ability to make a decision when required. The ability to take in all the available information and then help the team to arrive at a decision is crucial. Sometimes it is actually the Project Manager who needs to make the decision as it is his or her decision to make. At these crucial times, the team is watching and looking for leadership from the Project Manager. Jacek Hunek taught me these traits on a major project we were both on. More importantly, he also taught me that you can’t make these decisions without being authorized by the team. It is a very fine line. You have to be able to read when the team has granted you authority and when they have not. Being a Project Manager doesn’t mean you can make decisions all the time. I still remember talking to Jacek after a tough issue and Jacek providing this advice:

“Terry, you can’t march up the mountain and expect them to follow after. They never wanted to go up that mountain and even if they did, you need to go up as a team”

Principled and Lack of Ego – Wadood Ibrahim

The Project Manager must be principled and always do what is right and fair. The Project Manager can’t do what he thinks he can get away with. (from both a client and team member perspective) The Project Manager must also understand he or she is just one member of a team. No better,  no worse. He or she can’t have an ego as to what is their job and role. Every member of the team must do whatever it takes to deliver maximum value to the client. In whatever shape or form that takes. When decision are required, it should always be what is right and fair. This is even when the contract may support a particular position. Fairness is not about being defendable, it is about being fair and principled. 100% of the time. I have worked at Protegra for almost 9 years and Wadood Ibrahim has taught me through his actions as to how to always be principled and fair. Always. There has not been one decision I disagreed with since I started at Protegra almost 9 year ago and I sleep easy every night.

Hard working and sense of duty – Larry Bunio

And then in addition to these fine traits it takes a solid work ethic to bring them together. I have my own father to thank for that. My father always stressed how important it was to do the best job you could do and that you needed to complete the job. No what how much you may no longer enjoy it. In addition to a work ethic, my father was also able to build a real sense of duty into my psyche. I remember one time I wasn’t looking forward to going to a relative’s home. I think I was about 10 years old. My father grabbed my shoulder and looked me in the eye and said:

“I know you don’t want to go, but you and I need to go because it is important to your aunt. And that is what matters”

That sense of duty has stuck with me ever since. If I don’t get to do the tasks I want to or I have to do things for others I always remind my self that my duty is to ensure I do what is important to the client and team members and not just what is important to me.

Happy Father’s day Dad.


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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