10 Essential Qualities and Characteristics for Elite Project Managers

The competence and capabilities of any given project manager are just as importance as the overall viability of the project itself.  In fact, it will often be the input and actions of the project manager that determine whether or not a project will succeed.  The fact that every project will have its inherent differences means that project managers must possess a rich, varied and dynamic skills-set, in conjunction with comprehensive industry knowledge.  But at the same time, soft skills and emotional intelligence (EQ) count for just as much as experience and intellectual intelligence combined.

So whether looking to begin a career in project management or pursue advancement in an existing position, what follows is a brief introduction to the

10 most essential qualities and characteristics an elite project manager must possess:

Vision

In the field of project management, vision means being able to determine both where the project needs to go and how to get it there.  In order to be a true visionary, you have to be committed to looking beyond existing boundaries and challenging limitations at all times.  Not only this, but vision in the role of  project management means also empowering every other individual involved, in order to open them up to your vision and illustrate why they have a significant stake in the outcome of the project.  Vision isn’t simply about setting goals – it’s also rooted in empowerment.

Team Building

Project managers are often described as the linchpin that holds the wider team together.  While their efforts in terms of the project’s key duties and requirements may be limited, they play the most important rule of all in building, overseeing and continually developing the team.  It’s a case of taking what may be any number of strangers with different experience, backgrounds and competencies, in order to transform them into a single finely-tuned machine.

Passion

The difference between passion and commitment is that in the case of the former, you are doing what you do because it genuinely matters to you.  It’s one thing to be committed to any given task, but you will never invest 100% of your being into anything that you are not genuinely passionate about.  Passion is also of enormous importance when it comes to inspiring others to both for your example and share your contagious enthusiasm.

Emapthy

A project manager who is unaware of the importance of empathy will never become the kind of project manager others enjoy working with.  And if you do not enjoy working with a project manager, it is inevitable that you will not perform to your full potential.  This means remembering above all else that those involved in the project are real human beings, as opposed to passive and emotionless robots.  The value of empathy extends to all contributors and stakeholders at all levels.

Competence

Both in terms of winning the confidence of the project’s key contributors and actually getting the job done, competence is of course of the utmost importance.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the project manager needs to have comprehensive technical abilities in relation to the primary purpose of the project.  Instead, it means competence in ensuring that all responsibilities and duties are placed in the hands of those best suited to them, while overseeing and facilitating the project’s ongoing progress.

Delegation

Contrary to popular belief, delegation doesn’t simply mean sharing the workload between those taking part.  Instead, it means carefully considering every human resource in order to identify the expertise, skills and experience of those contributing to the project.  Successful delegation requires a careful process of analysis and strategic thinking, along with a strong sense of empathy.

Composure

It is extremely rare for any project in the business world to meet with success, without encountering a wide variety of challenges along the way.  Handled appropriately, it is exactly such challenges that can enhance, optimize and significantly improve the overall outcome.  As such, project managers must have the kind of composure required to remain levelheaded, objective and entirely under control, regardless of what may occur.  Stakeholders and contributors will almost always turn to project managers for strengths and guidance in times of crisis.

Communication

Inadequate communication has the potential to impact the performance and stability of any business at any level.  Communication plays one of the most important roles in project management, ensuring that expectations, performance, responsibility, goals, delegation of duty and so on are all communicated with absolute clarity and consistency.  It is often said that the successful project manager will spend approximately 90% of their working lives communicating, which is precisely why it is a skill and quality to be mastered.

Integrity

Integrity, loyalty and honesty are likewise of critical importance in project management.  In such an influential leadership role, everything the project manager does will represent an example to be followed by those they work with.  Business projects rarely succeed unless every stakeholder and participant involved has total trust and confidence in the project manager.  This is something that is only plausible when the project manager is an individual of flawless integrity.

Problem Solving

Last but not least, problem solving requires far more than simply knowing and understanding the subjects or industry area inside out.  As a project manager, problem solving is an everyday part of the job – every problem representing both a challenge and an opportunity to take advantage of.  It is only by seeing the potential positives in every challenge that problems can be approached in a consistently proactive and beneficial manner, with the project’s goals in mind.