Key Skills of Project Managers

While there is a broad range of skills needed to effectively manage the people, process, and technical aspects of any project, it becomes clear there is a set of key skills that each project manager should have. While these skill categories are not necessarily exclusive of each other, let's group them into five (5) categories to streamline our review and discussion:

  1. Project Management Fundamentals The "science" part of project management, covered in this book, including office productivity suite (such as Microsoft Office, email, and so on) and project management software skills.
  2. Business Management Skills Those skills that would be equally valuable to an "operations" or "line-of-business" manager, such as budgeting, finance, procurement, organizational dynamics, team development, performance management, coaching, and motivation.
  3. Technical Knowledge The knowledge gained from experience and competence in the focal area of the project. With it, you greatly increase your "effectiveness" as a project manager. You have more credibility, and you can ask better questions, validate the estimates and detail plans of team members, help solve technical issues, develop better solutions, and serve more of a leadership role.


    Active listening is one of the secret weapons of effective project managers.

  4. Communication Skills Since communication is regarded as the most important project management skill by PMI, I felt it was important to separate these out. Skills included in this category would include all written communication skills (correspondence, emails, documents), oral communication skills, facilitation skills, presentation skills and the most valuableactive listening. Active listening can be defined as "really listening" and the ability to listen with focus, empathy, and the desire to connect with the speaker.
  5. Leadership Skills This category overlaps with some of the others and focuses on the "attitude" and "mindset" required for project management. However, it also includes key skills such as interpersonal and general "people" skills, adaptability, flexibility, people management, degree of customer-orientation, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to keep the "big picture" in mind.

The specific combination of skills that are required for a project manager to be successful on a given project will vary depending on the size and nature of the project. For example, as a general rule, on larger projects, technical knowledge will be less important that competence in the other four skill categories.

I know, I know…after reading this, you are probably thinking either one or more of the following:

  • "You must be kidding! I need to be good in all those areas to manage a project?"
  • "Wait! I've been on projects before, and I've yet to see a project manager who could do all that."
  • "Wait, you must be kidding! If anyone was excellent in all those areas, they'd be a CxO of our company."

To help answer all of these questions, please understand two important observations:

  1. Many projects are not successful.
  2. You do not need to get an "A" in all of these categories to be successful as a project manager.

The key is that the project manager has the right mix of skills to meet the needs of the given project. In addition, a self-assessment against these skill categories will allow you to leverage your strengths, compensate for your deficiencies, and focus your self-improvement program.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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