I love watching Gordon Ramsay.
On any given day I switch on Netflix, Ramsay can be seen firing barbed insults at bumbling chefs. Some great quotes include:
“I wish you’d jump in the oven. It’d make my life a lot easier!”
“I’ve never, ever, ever, ever, ever met someone I believe in as little as you.”
“My Gran could do better, and she’s dead!”
But while Gordon Ramsay is a great source of entertainment, watching him in a kitchen on a reality TV show is a guilty pleasure. Real people’s feelings are being hurt, and his insults will not necessarily make them better cooks. My bet is that Ramsay doesn’t run his kitchens like he does on Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, or Gordon Ramsay’s F Word. I doubt that any project manager—or kitchen manager—would be able to achieve the highest recognition (three Michelin stars) without a team that demands respect. Ramsay is entertaining as a boss because he only has to work with his contestants once and then he walks away.
Yet for his home restaurants to be more sustainable, he probably uses similar skills that he employs on the show: quick and actionable feedback, willful rejection of mediocrity, and tempered patience when dealing with explosive chefs. He never withholds information that would better his team, and is always working to lift up an entire restaurant–not just selected individuals who work within it who make for good reality T.V. These are all leadership skills that will help any team run smoothly.
Project managers included.
So is Gordon Ramsay a role model for how we should inspire our team members? Or is he an abusive boss that should be chastised for his indifference to others’ emotions?
Ramsay has some of the personality traits of a good project manager, but there are others you should possess to really be a great PM.
According to a tally of articles written by experts, a project manager’s personality includes:
- Client-orientation: Take the time to understand your customer’s needs and push your team to provide a product that exceeds the client’s expectations.
- Authority: Don’t rely on your title to command respect.
- Organization: Project managers need more than just vision to lead a project to success—they need to be able to create a plan to achieve that vision.
- Strong communication skills: Even when project managers know where a project needs to go, they need to be able to clearly communicate their ideas and receive feedback from their team.
- Foresight: Anticipate problems and head them off before they compromise deadlines and budgets.
- Modesty: Project managers need to be able to reevaluate the project processes without an invasive ego.
- Pragmatism: Use what resources are available to you. Prioritize staying within scope and budget.
- Empathy: Project managers would be pretty unsuccessful without a team. Take your employee’s concerns seriously and commit to grappling with them.
While I agree with these eight traits, there was an nineth trait some experts included that irked me: Extroversion. The justification, from Project Times, is that project managers must regularly make presentations and lead work groups. The author adds, “An introverted person will likely have to undergo long-term training and coaching to come out of their shell in order to be truly effective in all environments. Extroverted people tend to exhibit a natural comfort in such situations and are at an advantage.” Indeed, one study shows that 65% of senior executives claim that introversion is “an impediment to ‘climbing the ladder.’”
I’m not sure if that’s the case. For example, a Forbes article notes that 40% of executives identify as introverts (including juggernauts like Katharine Graham, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett). By definition, introverts are not necessarily shy, they just get worn out by excessive stimulation and need alone time to recharge.
Instead of being a handicap, introversion can help leaders succeed. For example, in The Introverted Leader, Jennifer Kahnweiler notes that introverts take more time to prepare for presentations and think through their goals. They tend to avoid the pull to multitask better than their extroverted counterparts. Finally, Kahnweiler adds that introverts tend to be better listeners. For project managers, that means that introverts are likely to be more in tune with their team.
I’m not convinced that introversion is a necessity for effective project management—more so that introverts and extroverts both possess essential personality traits to make efficient project managers.
Ultimately, if project managers possess the eight essential skills listed above (client-orientation, authority, organization, strong communication skills, foresight, modesty, pragmatism, and empathy), they have the right personality for the job.
Not every project manager has to manage in the exact same way as Gordon Ramsay. They don’t have to be loud and abrasive. They don’t need to micromanage every ingredient, or step, along the way to a great final product.
So long as project managers possess the leadership qualities listed above they will succeed, introverts and extroverts alike.
What leadership skills do project managers need to survive? Is it inherent to their personalities or are they learned abilities? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!