The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 418: Essential Business Management Skills (Free)

Play Now:

For Project Management Professional (PMP)® Students: PMP Exam Prep :
The PM PrepCast for the PMP Exam

All presenters
All interview guests

Last year at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2017 in Chicago, Illinois I recorded about a dozen interviews. They have all been published over the past year and you've probably heard some or all of them. But what you don't know is what happened once each interview was complete.

I pressed the recording button one more time and asked each of my guests the following question: What business management skills are essential for today’s project manager if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?

And today you are going to get all the answers. In one nice mashup. Here are all the presenters in the order you will hear their answers

  • Andy Kaufmann
  • Betsy Stockdale
  • Laszlo Retfalvi
  • Justin Fraser
  • Jen Pfaff
  • Sarah Gallagher
  • Kim Wasson
  • Darryl Hahn
  • Jeff Kissinger
  • Niraj Kumar

Oh, and spoiler alert... the answer that I received most often was "Flexibility".

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we introduce you to the essential business management skills that we project managers need in order to become more strategic.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is Episode #418 and I am Cornelius Fichtner. It’s good to have you with us.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: Last year at the PMI Global Conference in Chicago, I recorded about a dozen interviews. They have all been published over the past few months and you’ve probably heard some or all of them. But what you don’t know is what happened once each interview was complete because I pressed the recording button one more time and asked each of my guests the following question: “What business management skills are essential for today’s project managers if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?”

And today, you are going to get all the answers that I have recorded in one nice mash-up. We begin with Andy Kaufmann who says that assertiveness is one of the keys to success.

Cornelius Fichtner: Andy, what business management skills are essential for today’s project managers if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?

Andy Kaufmann: You know, I had a coaching client who is a director level at the time and he said to me. He goes: “Alright! So this is like summer, mid-year by next Spring. I need to be a Vice President.” And it surprised that he was so focused on title. Because most people maybe it’s more on pay or something else. But he goes: “I got to have that title by then.” So we talked about it that you can’t go in titled, but you can sometimes ask. For example: “I want to get there. What does it take to get there?” And then you have to do it. You can just you know say it.

By the way, he got it and it wasn’t brilliant coaching. It was that he did the stuff that he had to do. One of the things I find especially for project managers who grow up from individual contributor to maybe some sort of team, some sort of project manager where as they grow up one of the business management skills that is missing is assertiveness. As they get more and more responsibilities, sometimes they become a little bit more ensure of themselves.

Like I read this thing that said: The biggest fear of CEOs is the impostor syndrome that people will find out that we’re not as good as we think of. And so as they get more and more, sometimes they start pulling back on the assertiveness and if anybody would like some advice on that, there’s this woman named Sarah Robb O’Hagan who wrote a book called “Extreme You” and she is like, here are some ways to ramp up your assertiveness. And too often we think sometimes assertiveness is aggressiveness and it’s different. It’s sometimes being willing to speak up saying: “I want to be on those strategic programs.” What does it take to do that?

Or speaking up at a meeting. One of the proxies we used for someone’s relation skills is: Do they speak up at meetings? It’s a pretty weak proxy but we use that sometimes. They don’t speak up in meetings. They are probably not a leader which is weak but sometimes that’s a shortcut that we use. So a little bit more speaking up, a little bit more of asking for what you want and advocating for yourself. And there are a lot of great resources to do it but it’s one that I find a lot of project managers don’t do.

Cornelius Fichtner: And now that you have a new title and you have risen in the ranks, I think that you’ll need a big dose of leadership. So here are Betsy Stockdale and Laszlo Retfalvi.

So Betsy what business management skills are essential for today’s project manager if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?

Betsy Stockdale: For me, that’s leadership. It’s really being able to go through, help identify and understand especially what, where we need to go and the best ways to get there. And using maybe some of our skills in terms of influence to help people understand the variety of different ways that we can get there and accomplish the same goal.

Cornelius Fichtner: So Laszlo, what business management skills are essential for today’s project managers if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?

Laszlo Retfalvi: That’s a very good question. I’ve done a lot of research over the last 20, 30 years including applying practical principles, reviewing PMI’s triangle and I came up with something that is known as a project management leadership model. And it consists of four items, four components --- your ability to have project management expertise. These are the things that distinguish you as a project manager.

You have core leadership skills. This is where you augment management with leadership. You have what we refer to as a risk-smart attitude. We talked about this a fair amount in today’s session. And then the last one is accountability-based behavior. And this is very important because it’s not being responsible. It’s about being accountable. Combine those and make sure that you are continually improving those elements is what in my opinion sets you apart from that project manager to an outstanding project manager and then you are linked in exactly where you need to be from a strategic perspective and you’ll just be a high-end performer.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So I asked the total of 10 interview guests to name the business management skill that we project managers need. Of course we are bound to have a few duplicates, but like you’ve just heard even though Betsy and Laszlo both said leadership, they each had their own twist.

And it’s the same with the next skill. Three of our guests have chosen flexibility but from their own point of view. Here are Justin Fraser, Jen Pfaff and Sarah Gallagher with their thoughts on being flexible.

So Justin, what business management skills are essential for today’s project manager if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organizations?

Justin Fraser: Today’s project manager has to be flexible and adaptable to the world that is changing around us. We have new technology. We have apps that help in productivity. We have new ways of doing business and to stay flexible with new ideas is going to allow you to do your projects well and move forward into the strategic thinking for your organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: Jen, what business management skills are essential for today’s project manager if they want to become more and more involved in strategic projects for their organization?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Tags: PDUs: Strategic and Business Management, PMI Global Conference, PMI Global Conference 2017

We Recommend the following books, courses and sites from our partners:

  • Do you need to know how to create a WBS? If so then The WBS Coach from Margaret Meloni is for you. Originally created by Josh Nankivel, this is the best WBS training that you will find.
  • The Project Management Answer Book is written by Jeff Furman and currently has a 5-star rating in Amazon. It can even help you for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, as it is an excellent PMP® Book that should be on the reading list of anyone preparing for the exam. We even have and interview with Jeff about his book. Click here to listen to the interview...
  • And outside of project management we are affiliated with this conveyancing company.

Disclaimer: We do not earn any commission by recommending these products.

Thank You

For sharing The PM Podcast with your colleagues!