How to Stand Out in a Sea of Great Project Managers

Jan 12, 2016
5 Min Read

project manager stand outBrand strategist Scott James of publishing firm Greenleaf Book Group knows something about making a name for yourself in a field where everyone is smart and at the top of their game. He’s come up with the four questions that separate experts from pretenders.

Scott James believes there’s a clear line between experts who have built a platform and brand around their expertise and experts who are great at their work but haven’t figured out how to do this. What does this line look like? James says it’s the ability to answer the following four questions off the cuff. It shows that experts with big ideas think about specific, high level gauges of success, progress and growth all the time and guide their actions and initiative accordingly.

What’s Working? 

Experts know the answer to this because they measure everything. Those who build a business around their expertise know which email approach adds the most to their bottom line and they know if flying to a certain city for a meeting is the right move. They have a system in place to keep track of such things, and they take the time to assess and understand their data. Every successful expert can rattle off the two or three things they do that drives their business and expands their audience—and they can do so without thinking about it too hard.

What is Making You Stand Out?

Experts with strong personal brands know that they are swimming in a crowded ocean, and they can pinpoint what it is about what they do that other people get excited about, and they know how to talk about what they do in a way that honors their uniqueness and targets the specific needs of the people they want to influence.

What’s Next?

Experts think several steps ahead. The ability to be deeply in the project that is happening now and already be thinking at 50,000 feet (and how today is laying a foundation for three years from now) is a difficult mental tightrope to walk. But whereas some people get buried in the details of their current project and let everything else go, experts can walk that tightrope because they know it’s critical. Experts can’t afford to wait until after their current project is finished to think about what’s next.

What Do You Want to Be Doing in 5 Years?

This answer involves what you want to be actively doing day-to-day, and there’s a key nuanced difference in the way experts talk about their future versus those who are still looking for the right way forward. Successful experts build a community that they can work and grow within, so the question becomes how they want to be doing their work and with whom, rather than what award they want to win or what endgame they want to pursue.

As a workplace expert and PM, I learned a lot from James’ tips. Did you?

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