Project managers need to show passion every chance they get

Project managers will not find in any text books about project management that they need to bring real passion to work for the success of their projects. That is too bad, based on my experience and experiences of many colleagues, all successful projects have one thing in common. In these projects, project managers and their teams feel very passionate about their projects and care greatly about their outcome. Funny thing about passion is that it is contagious. If the project manager got passion, others will catch it sooner or later. When people have passion for a person, a cause or a project they work harder and smarter for the best outcome.  It is their baby after all!

OK I am glad that you agree with me that passion is important in project management, but how do you show passion and how do you transfer it to others? The second question is easier to answer than the first. If someone doesn’t have it, he or she will never catch it regardless of how hard somebody tries. Let me explain. If as a project manager you wake up early every morning to go to work to take care of your project and not to impress the boss you got passion. If you think and rethink everything about the project even when you are home or at the bar with friends, you have got passion. You can’t force passion in someone, the seeds needs to be inside you. If you don’t feel passionate while you are working on a project, it is time to quit and let someone else with more passion to take over. This is true for the project manager and every member of the team. In short you and your team need to really care and love what you do to have a better chance of succeeding in your project.

Now going back to the first question. How do you show passion which makes others to feel passionate about what you care so much? This is real test of leadership. Leaders make their own passion transmitted and adopted by the members of their team. Don’t take me wrong, this is not done by force or by intimidation. On the contrary this is done in subtle ways, quietly and without anybody noticing it. Did you ever watch the late Chris Farley in SNL performing his motivational speaker skit? In addition to be real funny, there was a ring of truth in Farley’s act. He was transmitting his enthusiasm and passion to others anyway he could, albeit in a crazy and loud manner. Well you can’t imitate Farley as a project manger, but it is a good idea to show how passionate you are about the project to your team every chance you get. You need to be the cheerleader, the advocate and the champion of the project.

Things project managers need to do:

  1. Show your enthusiasm and pride in the project any chance you get
  2. When things go bad, don’t loose faith and stay optimistic and on message
  3. Emphasis the benefits of the project for the humanity, your company and the team
  4. Keep team members in the loop as what is going on with the project. No secrets all open for all to see. This doesn’t mean to imply for people outside the team. Keeps secrets close to your chest.
  5. Have team building and fun events throughout the project’s life cycle
  6. Reward high performers with recognition and financial awards

It is much more fun when people work on a project or task which they feel good about and have passion for it.  Project managers need to keep this in mind when managing projects and do their utmost to achieve it. Teams that have fun together and care equally about the outcome of the project have a better chance at succeeding than teams which don’t.


David Robins


David Robins is the founder and CEO of Binfire. David studied at both Cornell and MIT, and was the Director of Software Engineering at Polaroid for 11 years.

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