9 key qualities of a great Project Manager

The role of the project manager continues to be vital in successful project delivery.  But what are the key qualities that make a good Project Manager great? 

1. Delegates confidently

A good Project Manager is not afraid to delegate tasks and responsibilities and delegate with ease. They don’t need to maintain control as they know they have an effective team that they trust to get the task or job done. He/she should be able to recognise the skills and expertise of team members and assign or delegate the tasks accordingly. Trust is an essential element in the relationship of a Project Manager and his or her team. You demonstrate your trust in others through your actions – how much you check and control their work; how much you delegate and how much you allow people to participate. 

In delegation, it is also helpful to look at “The 30% Solution”.   According to Cooper, T. (2015). Delegation: the 30% solution. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2015—EMEA, London, England. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, this can free up your time, help you get more work done by others, and at the same time, help project team members develop important skills which you can use in future engagements. 

2. Displays empathy

Empathy must not be mistaken for sympathy. Although the words are similar, they are mutually exclusive. Empathy means to understand. Those project managers with a high-level of empathy are excellent listeners, they make time to connect with their team and actively listen to other points of view. They are approachable and possess high emotional intelligenceA good Project Manager also needs to understand that there is life outside the workplace and that people are not machines without emotions. By doing so he/she will develop a personal relationship with the team members that will serve as a tool for better results.

3. Communicates in a language everyone understands

In all elements of work-life the most common complaint about an organisation is ‘lack of communication'.   Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback. The projects leader is also the team’s link to the larger organisation.  The PMI (Project Management Institute) suggest a Project Manager should spend 90 per cent of their time communicating.  A great Project Manager must have the ability to communicate effectively and in a language that everyone understands.  

4. Is an effective influencer and negotiator

A great Project Manager needs to have the ability to influence and negotiate intelligently and to present information such as a project plan to Senior management and key stakeholders.   A key objective for project managers is to gain buy-in from the project stakeholders and good negotiation and influencing skills along with tact and diplomacy go a long way to achieving such milestones as securing a project budget.  In a team situation influencing and negotiation skills are also important to build trust. A good team builder provides the glue that binds the team together in common purpose.

5. Continuously expands their skillset

A project team must believe that the Project Manager knows what he/she is doing. Having the required skill and technical expertise won’t make you an expert in a certain field but it will mean that you can equip yourself with the essential project management tools, software and qualifications to expand your knowledge further and demonstrate your ability.   A great Project Manager tries to undertake continuous learning and professional development, always looking to broaden his/her expertise, and keep abreast of the latest skills, qualifications and technology that will help him/her do their job better.

6. Displays integrity

Call it integrity, honesty or loyalty. A great Project Manager needs to have them all. His/her actions set an example for the rest of the team members and is ultimately responsible for setting ethical standards for the rest of the team. The project manager should practice what they preach and in turn earn trust.

7. Has vision

An effective project leader is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Visionaries thrive on change and being able to draw new boundaries.

Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. —Peter Drucker

Visionary leaders enable people to feel that they have a real stake in the project. They empower people to experience their vision on their own. They offer people opportunities to create their own vision, to explore what the vision will mean to their jobs and lives, and to envision their future as part of the vision for the organisation.

8. Remains enthusiastic

We tend to follow people with a positive, can-do attitude; those who see opportunities rather than barriers, who bring ideas and solutions to meetings, rather than those who are always negative and give us all the reasons for why something can’t be done. Enthusiastic and positive leaders are committed to their goals and express this commitment through optimism.  Enthusiasm is contagious and effective leaders know this.   

9. Is decisive

Great project managers are always learning, they are open to ideas and suggestions, they are always looking for ways to improve; themselves, their team, products or processes, and are never afraid to stand up and be decisive.  Why not start your day by being more decisive and see what difference it makes?




Influencing and negotiation

Skills and technical expertise




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