“Be mean!”

2 min readNov 14, 2017


One of my clients told me that. Why? I guess I’m too nice, jk, I am not. Here is the full picture for you below…

Working as a Project Manager by definition limits you in the way that you can’t really be firm and tell clients “No!” or “We need you need to do [this] by [then] because of [this]!”. Project Manager is simply not what a Product Manager is. However, I believe that all Project Managers actually do have the power and my client proved that by saying to me “Adel, you need to be mean!”.

After the client describes everything to me in terms of functionality and general requirements for the project, I, as a project manager, need to make sure that the tasks are clear to the team and we’re ready to kick off. However, it is very likely that there will be more questions as work goes on, there will be blockers, endless chat messages, calls, meeting… What should I do in such situations? I should remember that I am accountable and be “mean”: I see that my team is stuck, I know that the client has answers, so I’ve got to get them!

Some people believe that Product Manager and Project Managers are two different positions. However, I think that a good project manager ought to care about projects as much as product managers do and do. Otherwise why the team needs you at all?.. Project managers see are the first point of contact when it comes to communication with the team and I do believe that the power is his/her hands to tell the client what exactly he’s doing (or not doing) that causes any problems or delays in development.

I feel like it is project managers’ responsibility to be clear about the importance of communication be it firm, kind, or absolutely indifferent. You gotta get shit done! (excuse my French) So if you’re a project manager and think that you can’t do anything, stop thinking. Start doing. Do what you and your team need to do to succeed. Remember: that you are the one who’s managing, who’s leading.