Skills a project manager should nurture

Published Categorized as Project Manager, Qualities, Skills
project manager
project manager

Chapter 9 of a much more comprehensive post Project Management Starting Out Guide. Let’s get right in and discover the areas where an aspiring project manager should focus. Developing the right skills is crucial to your success.

Project Manager Skills

An innate leader

by innate leader, I mean one appointed by their peers, rather than by management.

It is not necessarily the one that bears the “manager” title. If you look at any team you will see one person stand out as being the “leader”. I want that kind of leadership, one that comes naturally and is embedded into that person’s DNA. Usually someone that can become a leader has a certain degree of confidence and many of the skills listed below.

Well Organized

Being organized is a core skill and it should exist in any project manager’s toolbox. They will need to be able to determine what needs to be done and when to do it to ultimately achieve a desired objective. I can compare them with a juggler that needs to keep as many pins as he can in the air, all at once, without loosing sight of any of them.

Focus & Vision

It is critical for a project manager to be able to envision what needs to be done to achieve the project’s objectives and goals. He needs to be capable of seeing that which has yet to be created. How can you expect people to follow if you have no clue where you are going? One interesting aspect of this is the ability to get others to articulate their vision and act on that.

Good Communicator

Communication, communication, communication. While it is important for a project manager to have a clear vision of what it needs to be done, it is equally important he is able to clearly communicate that to others, tailoring his language depending on audience, communicate to all levels of the organization from Upper Management to unskilled workers.

Willing to Be the Bad Guy

You must be willing to be the bad guy, it’s as simple as that. Whilst you may be fortunate to have a project that runs smoothly from start to finish, it is more likely that there will be times when you will have to make decisions that not everybody agrees with, to get the project on track.


This is the opposite of being willing to be a bad guy. If you care about people, and still be able to make difficult decisions, will earn you a lot of respect, within the project team. It is important to respect your coworkers, no matter how senior or junior they are.

Calm under Pressure

Projects seem to have a way of going awry, and it’s not recommended to have a project manager that falls to pieces every time something goes wrong. You will have to be able to think on your feet and remain calm in the face of trouble. You should focus on what is important, prioritize and focus on what is critical and leave the rest for later.

Quick Learner

Being a project manager usually entitles that you will be facing with a lot of diversity. Moving to larger, more complex projects, quite often means working outside your comfort zone. If you want to manage a project successfully you need to understand what is being asked for rather quickly. As long as you can grasp key concept quickly, and ask the right questions you should do OK.

Common Sense

It seems trivial doesn’t it? Who doesn’t have common sense? Well there are some subtleties to it. Any person who is able to prioritize, not sweat over the small stuff, and who knows when he can afford to compromise, and when not to, is highly desirable. It is rare to find a project manager that possesses these 2 key skills.

Love Your Job

Do you love your job? If you do it will be easier to keep going if things become uncomfortable. If you don’t maybe it is time you move on.

Some quick snippets of knowledge:

  • Do not use information as a weapon or a means of control
  • Adhere to predictable communication schedules
  • Possess domain expertise in project management as applied to a particular field

In summary, a great project manager plans, manages, and handles details in a way that lets others relax.

What do you think? Are there other key skills that aren’t represented here?

What makes a great project manager in your experience?


Also you can go to the first post of the guide Project Management Starting Out Guide to get an overview of how I have structured the guide. Please leave your comments below. It means providing helpful information that contributes to an article or discussion.

Image courtesy of Freepik

By Alex Puscasu

I am a Project Management practitioner with more than 5 years experience in hardware and software implementation projects. Also a bit of a geek and a great WordPress enthusiast. I hope you enjoy the content, and I encourage you to share your knowledge with the world.