Monday, August 15, 2011

6 Keys to Separate Yourself from the Pack

1. Develop your leadership skills. Read, study, and apply yourself to developing as a leader. Some professionals are born leaders. Others are made during the course of battle. You can learn and develop many of the traits of a leader.

2. Become a strategic thinker. How is what you are doing today going to affect your client next week? Take time each day for “think time.” Find a quiet spot and designate it as your “thinking spot.” Take with you a pen and paper. Do not leave until you have written down at least one idea that will help you progress a project, progress an idea, progress your career, progress your boss’ career.

3. Bring in work. Those who succeed in the consulting business are those who “bring in more pie than they eat.” Interpretation: Sell more work than you can do by yourself and start leveraging it out to others. You are now “feeding staff.” Develop your own clients that come back to you because you serve them so well.

4. Understand the organization. Take time to understand your firm’s organizational structure and the role of each of the leaders in the firm. Then determine how you can help each be a little more successful. Be the first to raise your hand to help them in their responsibilities. Successful people are the ones who are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.

5. Manage your teams well. As a project manager, you are the leader. Leadership has “follower-ship.” Be a constant communicator to the team. Help them understand how important their role is on the team. I am reminded of the architect who told me how the mail room staff shipped his proposal out by Federal Express. Unfortunately, the proposal was for the expansion of a UPS Center. He said his proposal was never even opened, but he did learn the value of everyone on a team.

6. Understand the finance of business. Take the necessary time to develop your business acumen. Consulting companies are in business to make money. Make sure you understand the language of money. My experience indicates that very few take the time to learn the meaning of terms like revenue, gross margin, indirect costs, WIP and AR. Find a new friend in accounting and let them coach you along. It won’t be long before other PMs will be coming to you as the financial expert.

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