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What Women Can Bring to Project Management

Not too many years ago, nearly all managers were male. This is certainly not the case today, but it is still true that fewer women than men stride the boardrooms of the UK and the world. The times, though, they are a-changing. Research suggests that women have the leadership qualities that business and project management in this century may well demand.

  1. Role model for the future. There is a school of thought that suggests that had women held senior positions in the noughties the credit crunch might never have occurred. Women, they say, think before they act. They don’t take risks lightly. They take decision making seriously. As a result, they make better decisions and instill a sense of confidence in people around them. We shall never know what would have happened if women had been at the helm but we do know that these are helpful qualities in the modern project world buffeted as it is by the winds of global events. For women PMs who can gain the confidence and support of local or global team members, executives, users, suppliers, and others, must have a better chance of project success.
  2. Inspirational leader. Great leaders and explorers have at least one quality in common: they have the ability to inspire a shared and lasting vision that persuades people to follow them into unknown seas. The same is true – some claim – of women who possess leadership material for they are thought to be able to motivate, influence and appeal to people to follow them. These are attributes that any project manager would value and, more importantly, attributes that any man or woman can acquire. PRINCE2 gives you the hard skills that help you understand elements such as the quality review technique which can assist you to lead. APMP instills soft skills such as leadership, communication and conflict management that help manage the people that help keep the project on track.
  3. Communication expert. We all know the stereotype of women being chatterboxes. Fewer of us may be aware, however, that research indicates that they also make good listeners and that the casual exchanging of information enables women to pick up on the good and bad vibes in an organisation that help them steer business away from stormy weather. It is worth noting here that, whether man or woman, the project manager must remember that PRINCE2 communication does not only take place by the coffee cart but also via more formal means such as reports, registers and logs.
  4. Conflict manager. Since projects are about people in one way or another, it is no surprise that differences between individuals can occur. What may be more of a surprise is that these differences can benefit a project. If a team member, for instance, highlights concerns about a particular approach or action, the whole team can reflect on it, re-evaluate any potential risks and adjust course to ensure a better outcome. The trick is to manage the process so that conflict is constructive rather than destructive. Which is where women come in. They are thought to possess the qualities required for conflict resolution, valuing communication, collaboration, inclusiveness and fairness. As a result people they work with feel cared for, and people who feel cared for give their best. It is worth noting, however, that research also shows that men and women both have positive and negative qualities when faced with conflict.
  5. Negotiator. Sometimes project management feels as if it should be called project negotiation as there’s so much of it! Project managers negotiate with customers, suppliers, executives and sponsors about everything from budgets and timescales to technology and personnel. Researchers have discovered that when women have good information, when they care about an issue and when they are working for others they negotiate results that can exceed those of men. Whatever the truth of these gender differences, perhaps the one thing to remember is that good project managers can be created through appropriate experience and learning.

Useful Links

  • Fascinated by the role of women in the workplace? The Institute of Leadership and Management report will take you through the many layers of thought and discussion about gender and work in detail.
  • Women are thought to epitomize Transformational leadership and more information. See if you agree.
  • If you’re wondering how women are doing in business then this FT report will make riveting reading along with the latest survey on women in boards.
  • Want to know how APMP and PRINCE2 fit together? Here’s the long version and here’s the 60 second version.
  • Want to know about APMP? We’ve got almost everything you’ll need to know.
  • ILX Group delivers PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner e-learning, classroom and blended learning to suit every situation.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel! We’ve got a bunch of free and useful downloads to help you manage projects.
  • The PRINCE2 e-learning experience provides cost-effective, rich and collaborative training that includes a blog, a forum and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • ILX Connect can help companies implement PRINCE2 training.
  • ILX Consulting provides everything from maturity assessments and organisational health-checks, through ITIL, MSP and PRINCE2 implementation, to programme and project performance management. It has a proven record of delivering tangible improvements in capability, productivity and customer satisfaction to a businesses and organisations
  • The APMG has a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options.
  • For definitive information about PRINCE2 the Cabinet Office is the place to go on everything from the history of the methodology to all the Best Management
  • Practice products in its portfolio.