There is a myth out there that Project Managers need to be aggressive, shout at people and bully a bit to get things delivered.

Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in small organisations and where you need to build long term relationships with both your own staff and suppliers.

There’s little to be gained from upsetting people to try to get a project delivered.  The best Project Managers persuade and influence, bring teams together and motivate them.  This is rarely achieved by bullying.

I managed a huge system delivery for a FTSE 100 company.  This was an 18 month project and at the time represented the largest implementation in that company’s history.  There was a massive amount of work to be done and the change touched so many of the company’s systems that there would have been serious impacts if faults had been found after go live.

The project delivered on time and budget and without any issues after go-live.

In a meeting with my manager (an otherwise highly intelligent man) after the delivery,  he congratulated me , but said that a number of people couldn’t understand how I’d done it and were going as far as to suggest it must have been blind luck!

Feeling rather offended by this, I enquired why, to which he said ‘But you don’t shout at people, a lot of the senior staff cannot believe that anyone could deliver a project as big as this without shouting at people’.

He then went on to say maybe I should shout at people now and again to enhance my reputation.  I did find it incredibly sad to hear such views, but it’s not an uncommon perception that you need to be an aggressive macho project manager to be successful in Project Management.

I’ve delivered a lot of projects in my career and I’m proud to say I’ve not had to shout at people to achieve this.

Persuade, cajole, use diplomacy, be firm, but please don’t be overly aggressive.  It may make you feel better briefly and provide a short term gain, but won’t help you deliver in the longer run.

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Read more advice on Project Management in Project Management for SMEs – available in print and ebook format.

Gren Gale is a consultant specialising in Project Management and Procurement and is owner of PM Results



Image courtesy of Dr Joseph Valks at

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