Finding My Power in PM

Project management is probably one of the most difficult roles in this industry to define. Countless articles, blog posts, and books will give you varying definitions. Expectations of project leads are likely to change depending on your organization, your team, and the project you are working on. If you were to try polling a sample group of PMs, they would tell you that they all entered this field along wildly different paths. For a long time, I kept asking myself the chicken and the egg question: Does a person become a PM because of their personality and their gifts? Or are their personality traits shaped through their experiences as a project manager?

When I first got into project management, I thought I could be successful in this role because of my organizational skills and attention to detail. I wanted so badly for my abilities to fit within the business’ structure and for them to boost the success of our projects. But after a while, I realized that “good project management” does not ask that I fit neatly within existing structures. In fact, the best project management that I can offer my team combines my unique skills and my unique shortcomings. It requires me to sit comfortably in my humanity even if that means challenging the status quo.

Reflecting on my work career, I realize that every job I’ve ever held has been service-oriented. From retail to restaurants, from marketing coordination to account management, I have consistently found my home in jobs that require me to be my most human self in service of other humans. And the longer I manage people and projects the more I see project management—more than many others in this industry—as a role where humans are in service to other humans.

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