Making a Difference as a Project Manager


Project Managers — and all professionals, really — pursue credentials in their field for a variety of reasons: to advance their knowledge and skills, to build their reputation, to earn a promotion, to get a pay raise…. All of these are perfectly valid reasons for seeking a credential. Those Project Managers who really stand out from the crowd, however, are those who view credentials (like the Project Management Professional [PMP] or Cheetah Certified Project Manager [CCPM]) as a starting point for their careers and as a means to increasing their impact as a Project Manager.

Here at Cheetah Learning, we’ve noticed that our Certified Project Management students who make the most difference and experience the greatest success in their careers do 4 key things. These Project Managers are committed to: being a positive role model to new PMs, continual growth and improvement, finding and developing their own and others’ strengths, and leveraging all of their sources of capital in carrying out their projects.

1. Be a good role model
People notice what you do and how you are much more than they notice what you say, or however many credentials you hold. There are 3 critical elements to being a good PM role model:

A. Fix the problem rather than fix the blame. Having a solutions-oriented approach makes you a go-to person. Complaining and tossing problems onto others makes you a run-from person.

B. Consistently follow a simple process for launching and doing your projects. Running projects is actually a process. Having a well-defined process you improve over time with how you lead your projects is the mark of a professional.

C. Focus and finish. It isn’t the projects you start that will get you the type of notice you want — it is the projects that you FINISH. Make sure you set up yourself so that you FINISH what you start. To do this requires diligence and leadership in the projects you agree to take on.

2. Keep improving as a Project Manager
Commitment to continual growth and improvement as a Project Manager requires you to reflect on what you know and what you are doing. Project Managers who make an impact in their careers adopt a reflective practice and make it a habit — daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, at the completion of project milestones, when they experience project risk events, and during project scope changes. To do this, ask yourself 4 questions about these experiences:
1. What happened?
2. How did I feel?
3. What did I learn?
4. What am I going to do differently?

When you create this as your habit, you strengthen your neural networks for consistent performance improvements as a Project Manager. You do this by enhancing your brain’s executive functioning capabilities, and you reduce the chances of getting stuck in time- and energy-sucking stress and worry that activates the flight-or-fight part of your brain.

3. Find and develop yours and others’ strengths
The most successful Project Managers are not just aware of their own and others’ strengths — they also know how to leverage these to create the most impact through their projects.

To start to develop this skill, ask yourself these questions:
Do others know that you will help them best leverage what makes them fantastic?
How will you help your project team members become the best versions of themselves by working on your project?

Even if you aren’t working with people day-in and day-out, how can you engage with others in ways that help them best shine?

4. Leverage all sources of capital to create more value with your projects
Strategic stakeholders are often measured according to the Return on Investment (ROI) of the projects they sponsor. As a Project Manager, it helps to understand how your project sponsors are being evaluated based on the end result of your efforts. Measuring ROI extends far beyond just the financial ROI of what it costs to run your projects as compared to the financial improvement the results of the project creates.

There are 5 significant sources of capital your project efforts can impact:
1. Financial Capital
2. Social Capital
3. Knowledge Capital
4. Brand Capital
5. Infrastructure Capital

When you learn how to leverage all 5 sources of capital for doing your projects, and can ensure that you will create a significant return on investment in each of these dimensions, you create a much bigger impact as a Project Manager.



About Author

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management (PM) to the masses. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 50,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative PM and accelerated learning techniques. Michelle also developed the Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM) program based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality profiling to help students master how to use their unique strengths for learning, doing projects, and negotiating. Michelle is recognized by the Project Management Institute as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world. For more information, visit

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