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10 attributes of successful project managers

Shikha Menwal
February 5, 2016

Good project managers are a rare commodity, and great ones are even rarer! A college degree could get you into the field of management, but a college degree is not enough to do the job properly. You need people skills, leadership skills.

The real challenge is not to complete the project; but to get things done in a way that makes everyone love their job and feel satisfied with what they do. So, what are those attributes that make a project manager great? What makes a manager successful in a real sense?

1. Natural at commanding authority

Some managers try too hard to sound bossy and authoritative. Not a lot of people know how to be their real self and yet maintain an authoritative disposition. Someone who is natural at commanding authority doesn’t need to use borrowed power to get things done or to feel respected. Also, let’s not confuse authority with intimidation; they are able to earn others’ respect because of the way they are. They are authoritative, but never sound bossy.

2. Great at empathising

A team is made of distinct personalities. Great managers work with that realisation. Those with ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude seldom qualify as good leaders, much less great. In order to lead people, it is crucial to first know them. Understanding people and knowing what motivates them is one way to empathise with them, to view things from other’s perspective.

3. Great listeners

This is one of the least common attributes you will find in people, not just managers. If you happen to be a good listener, you are likely to make a great manager. Everyone wants to talk, everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to listen.

A successful project manager listens to others. And not just listen, but do it without having any preconceived notions. Often when we listen to others we are not able to understand the message properly because of our own psychological filters and assumptions. A great manager will listen to others without having any assumptions about his or her problems, views, or any sort of biased thinking.

4. Easy-going

A project manager who is easy to talk to and get along with is likely to earn others’ respect. S/he won’t have to act loud, grumpy, or serious to get things done. Another benefit to this trait is that you are able to put everyone at ease. People don’t feel stressed around you. They feel like sharing the progress with you, without you having to ask for it.

5. Foresighted

Foresightedness means making future plans and reasonable predictions after taking into account real, tangible facts, and reasonable assumptions. I am not talking about supernatural psychic abilities. I am also not implying that managers who are foresighted live in the future. But such managers know how to make future plans while living in the present. Because of this ability they can predict whether something is about to go as planned or not, they can see things coming.

6. They enjoy work

Love what you do, and do what you love. I am sure this is not the first time you have read something like this. We have also heard and read repeatedly that those who love their work never feel like working. This is truer than most of us realise. Those who enjoy work, look forward to it every single day. That is something that makes a manager successful as well as exceptional. They look forward to working with everyone and most importantly they enjoy everything about it.

A successful manager never thinks of work as an an imposition, or necessary evil, or some sort of baggage they have to carry everyday no matter how much they hate it. They condition their mind in a way that even if everything around them is chaotic and going haywire, they will still be in a position to turn things around. They make a conscious effort to find out even the slightest trace of positivity in a situation where everything seems negative. This mindset is what makes them love their job and makes them successful.

7. They know how to lead

Leadership! Talk about good management and this is the first word that is likely to pop-up in your head. Unfortunately it also happens to be the most misunderstood term.

A successful manager knows that leadership is not about imposing rules and just getting things done. A good leader is someone who is open to everyone’s views and perceptions. A leader is neither a crowd-pleaser, nor indifferent to others and s/he is definitely not a know-it-all! The essence of good leadership is honesty and integrity. They say what they think, and do what they say. There is always harmony between their thinking, doing, and saying!

8. Level-headed

In a perfect world, no project will ever run into problems. Companies wouldn’t have to worry about exceeding budget limits, and all the things will just naturally fall into place. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, therefore level-headedness is probably the most crucial attribute that makes a project manager successful. Such a manager will be able to maintain a cool demeanour even when the pressure is high. Successful managers tackle problems with ‘try me’ attitude, instead of ‘why me’ attitude. They love coming-up with solutions, which is why problems don’t intimidate them.

9. Good at delegating work

Trust is a big factor that forms the very basis of relationship between a project manager and team members. How much you rely on someone’s expertise becomes clear through your actions. How often a manager checks on team members, how much s/he allows others to participate in decision-making process indicates whether a manager trusts others or not.

Delegating work makes people feel empowered, responsible, and trusted. A successful manager delegates to others. They move as far away from micro-managing as they possibly can. A good manager believes in the best in everyone and helps them realise their potential.

10. They never use fear as a motivator

Most of us live with this myth that the more a person feels pressured, the more quality work s/he will deliver. But quality work is directly linked with the level of one’s creativity and imagination. A fearful and stressed person can never think straight, let alone be creative. Good managers never use fear as a tool to make everyone do more, as they know fear only makes them panicky. Great managers focus always on quality not quantity.

Do you have these qualities? If yes, you are doing great! If no, start working on them. Using these attributes can do wonders in project management—just try it a for a day!

Shikha Menwal
Shikha Menwal is a writer for ProofHub. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences and writes on topics ranging from lifestyle to technology and management. In her free time she loves to watch comedy shows and read spiritual journalism.
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