Top 10 characteristics of a great project manager

Monica Wells
July 18, 2014

Being a project manager is a specific kind of leadership position, which requires certain character traits and qualities. A good project manager delivers projects within the deadline and budget set by the clients, meeting or even exceeding the expectations of the stakeholders. But what does it take to make a good project manager great? Here are the top 10 qualities one must have to become a successful project manager.

1. Leadership

A great project manager will set the tone for the project and provide a clear vision about its objectives for the team. A sense of foresight helps as well: by anticipating potential problems, you can have your team ready to solve them in the blink of the eye. Enthusiasm and passion are crucial to ensure that people follow you—nobody will do so if you’re sporting a negative attitude.

2. Task delegation

Being a leader doesn’t mean that you need to think about every tiny little detail of a project. Show your team members you trust them and delegate tasks to them. Of course, you should be able to judge your team members’ skills and assign the tasks in accordance with their strengths.

3. Communication

Good communication is not only about transmitting your vision to your team, it’s also about maximising the efficiency of meetings to make decisions and solve problems. People get easily bored during long, unorganised gatherings. The same goes for written communication: emails and reports are a means of communication you use daily so you need to be able to make most of them.

But that’s not all. You should also be a great public speaker, communicating your ideas and reflections in a coherent and understandable manner. Other communication skills like providing constructive feedback and active listening are important as well.

4. Empathy

As a team leader, you’ll need to be empathetic rather than sympathetic. Sometimes the work of your team members might be affected by the difficulties they experience in their private lives. It’s important that your team stays focused on the project and that each member remains productive even when having personal troubles. This is not to say that you should be remorseless—show that you care. Use sympathy scarcely but appropriately and opt for empathetic gestures such as allowing the team member to find his or her own workarounds.

5. Organisation

Good organisation is a key factor for creating a productive work environment as well as solving problems under pressure. Being well-organised helps to stay focused on the big picture and to prioritise your own tasks and responsibilities. When it comes to presenting your results, you should be able to recover all the necessary data and show a coherent vision of a project to be executed.

6. Competence

Being on top of your projects entails a vast amount of industry knowledge to be effective in what you do. Some knowledge on the financial and legal side of your projects will not hurt either. You need to be perceived as capable and competent by your team. Mind you, it’s not about technical expertise: you’re there to lead, which means encouraging, challenging and inspiring the members of your team.

7. Integrity

This word essentially means loyalty and honesty. You should be able to gain the trust of your team, at the same time setting the ethical tone on the projects and showing that you yourself follow the rules you set for others. Projects must be profitable, sure, but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to bend your morality to do so. If you’re project manager material, you’ll be able to come up with various solutions that will serve your ends.

8. Problem solving

You are the leader of the team, but that doesn’t mean you’ll solve all the problems yourself. Great project managers work with a team of experts or consultants and use their expertise to tackle problems in most efficient ways. No one will expect you to have a ready solution to each and every issue; you must be able to use the knowledge of your team members and even stakeholders to produce a collective response to any problems you experience on your way to delivering a project.

9. Collaboration

This is crucial—every great project manager knows how important their team is. A grasp of team dynamics is essential if you want your team to work smoothly on your projects. When developing your team, keep this in mind: conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen; as a leader, you’ll need to be able to mediate them and make sure all you team members work toward the same goal.

Remember, they’re not friends and they may not interact with each other outside of work—it’s your job to create a sense of unity. Show your respect for the work others perform to help you deliver this project and value all team members for their strengths.

10. Team development

Delivering projects within the time and budget limit can be quite stressful; it’s your job not to crumble under the pressure and make sure none of your team members do. Good leaders know that problems make up the fabric of life and are to be expected: they will treat problems as events that could possibly influence the project in a new way by providing a different perspective on its future.

Even if things get bad, you should never radiate a negative attitude towards your team as you’re the one they depend on to lead them through difficulties. If you’re project manager material, you’ll make it through.

Author avatar
Monica Wells
Monica Wells is a passionate educator and an accomplished businesswoman, the mastermind behind a couple of education and business projects. With a strong background in internet science and e-marketing, combined with IT expertise, she regularly delivers seminars on leveraging the potential of the web for professional and self-development.
Read more