Project Manager Skills

I looked at Project Team Skills recently. So what skills are required to be a Project Manager? I’m going to look at this issue in three way:

  • The type of person that makes for a good project manager
  • Secondly, the things a Project Manager needs to consider as their career progresses
  • Finally, the pitfalls of the technical expert as the Project Manager

I’ve written before about the Accidental Project Manager. The Accidental Project Manager is that person who never intended to be a Project Manager but seems to have ended up in the role. They are working as a Project Manager without ever having applied for the job. Perhaps this blog will help them develop!

What Makes a Good Project Manager

Here are some characteristics that make for a good project manager. These are the overall project manger skills required. Of course, if this is not you, you can pay attention to those skills that don’t come naturally to you:

  • Methodical & Organised. A good project manager is well organised, prompt to meetings, and has everything ready to hand
  • Dynamic and Enthusiastic. Charisma helps, but a project team like to see some dynamism and enthusiasm from their leader!
  • People Skills. Listens. Available. Communicates well
  • Leadership. Inspires the Project Team to complete the project
  • General Management Skills: Running Effective Meetings, Negotiation, Assertiveness, Motivating, Accepting Responsibility
  • Overall Business Awareness

A Project Manager may not have all of these skills, but needs to be aware of those skills that need future development.

Developing as a Project Manager

Project Manager Skills need to be developed over time. Here is what a Project Manager should consider to be steps along a career path:

  • Bigger Projects – Those of more strategic importance to the business
  • More Expensive Projects – Projects with responsibility for more money
  • Bigger Project Teams – Dedicated project teams – remote project teams – virtual project teams, international project teams
  • Stranger Projects – Those that have a significant number of tasks never attempted before
  • Complex Projects -Those with difficulty, complications, and using a large number of interconnected resources, organisations, people, and/or stakeholders
  • VUCA Projects – those showing a high degree of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity

Projects by definition are unique. Even if the next project is the same size, with the same team, new experiences will result! However, Project Managers should aspire to larger and more complex projects.

Knowledge plus experience leads to competence. Attending training may give knowledge, but it is the application on real projects that leads to competence. Project Management Competences have been defined by the APM. The APM have a framework of these 27 competences. Examining these competences will indicate development opportunities to develop project manager skills. Part of being a professional project manager is to maintain a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) log. This may help identify the requirements and training opportunities for development.

The Project Manager is the Technical Expert

One thing that can cause alarm bells to ring is when the project manager is also the technical expert on the project team. A project manger needs to be focused on the wider business implications of decisions made on the project. Being a technical expert can lead:

  • to ‘interfering’ in the technical side to the detriment of these wider business issues.
  • to being so engrossed on delivering the technical tasks themselves, they forget the management of the project

The project team needs to be managed by a Project Manager. Recognise that there can be a salary ceiling to being the technical expert. Beoming a project manager can open up new career avenues.


Project Managers should aspire to develop their skills by maintaining a CPD log, and increasing their competences.

People deliver projects. People on a project team should be led my a project manager who is people centered, and more of a leader than a manager.

Posted On: 30th June 2020

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