Project Practitioners > Your Influence skills as a Project Manager are key for project success

Your Influence skills as a Project Manager are key for project success

By Alfonso Bucero

Over the years I managed different projects and without being conscious of I influenced many people indirectly through my behaviors, actions and decisions. Persuading people to satisfy my requirements as a project manager was a difficult task for me when I started as a project management practitioner.

Some years later I understood that everyone is an influencer of other people. It does not matter who you are or what your occupation is. Then you, as a project manager influence all your project stakeholders. In fact if you want to be successful as a project manager or to make a positive impact on your projects, you need to become a person of influence.   Without influence, there is no success. For example, if you are a project manager you need to be able to influence your project stakeholders. Your success will depend on your ability to influence your team members positively. No matter what your professional or personal goals are in life or what you want to accomplish, you can achieve them faster, you can be more effective, and the contribution you make can be longer lasting if you learn how to become a person of influence.

Most of you know that the project manager needs to influence without authority in order to achieve the project success. However influence is invisible because it is about how people think. We cannot see the people’s thoughts. Thoughts drive behavior which drives actions and results. We can look at the results that influential project managers achieve but still have no idea about what makes them influential. Just as we cannot understand a person by looking at his shadow, we cannot understand influence by looking at its effect. We have to look for the causes of influence, not at its symptoms.

Thinking like an influencer is the first and most important step to becoming an influencer project manager. We do not need to sell our soul or clone our brain to become influential. We do not need to become someone else. We simply need to build on the best of who we already are.

I have observed that influence is very curious. Even though an impact in almost everyone around us, our level of influence is not the same with everyone. For example, when you have a team meeting with your team members and you present an idea to them or make a suggestion, do they all respond in the same way? Of course not. One person may think all your ideas are inspired. Another may view everything you say with skepticism. You can identify which one you have to influence with. On the other hand that idea presented by an executive to the same person may be accepted better.

If you pay attention to people’s responses to yourself and others, you’ll see that people respond to one another according to their level of influence. I consider leadership like a specific application of influence. Influence does not come to us instantaneously, it grows by stages.

We are influenced by what we see. For instance no matter what I tell to my children to do, their natural inclination is to follow what they see you’re doing. For most people, if they perceive that you are positive and trustworthy and have admirable qualities, then they will seek you as an influencer in their lives. And the better they get to know you, the greater your credibility will be and the higher your influence can become if they like what they see.

When you attend PMI Congresses and you meet people who does not know you, at first you have no influence with them at all. If someone they trust introduces you to them and gives you an endorsement, then you can temporarily “borrow” some of that person’s influence. They will assume that you are credible until they get to know you. But as soon as they have some time to observe you, you neither build nor bust that influence by your actions. Some people are very influenced by the image a well-known person has because of the actions and attitudes they believe that person represents.


Alfonso Bucero


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