What do Successful Project Managers Have in Common?

Most people who have practiced project management for any length of time have undoubtedly seen examples of good and bad project managers. Successful project management stems not only from one’s individual knowledge, talent, and ability, but their interactions with teams, understanding of methodologies, and ability to use the project management tools they’ve learned over the years. Most would agree that project management is neither an art nor a science but a combination of both. While there is no perfect formula for what makes a successful project manager, there are certain characteristics that they have in common.

1) Team Builder: Successful project managers have the ability to gain consensus from a diverse group of people in order to work toward a common goal. While there is no one way to do this, successful project managers use their interpersonal skills to identify priorities among stakeholders, understand what is important, convey the importance of the project to all involved, and empower team members while gaining buy-in from stakeholders. Without collectively pulling the group together toward a common goal, the chances of a successful project are not very good.

2) Organized: Many projects consist of large numbers of stakeholders, deliverables, and tasks and tend to become extremely complex with frequent changes and adjustments. If a project manager is not organized and prepared to handle all of the moving parts and pieces then he or she will have no chance for success. Successful project managers understand this complexity and are fully prepared for it before the project even begins. Experience is certainly helpful in this area, but project managers may also leverage other tools and resources to help stay organized.

3) Communicator: The importance of communication in project management is stated so often that it has almost become cliché. However, that doesn’t make it any less true. Successful project managers are able to communicate effectively, not simply just pass information along. This means that they are able to communicate in a way that ensures a clear understanding and in a timely manner. Additionally, it also involves being an effective listener and understanding what is important to stakeholders and team members. Communication is a two way process.

4) Flexible: No matter how much we plan, things will change during a project. Successful project managers do everything within their power to proactively plan and manage their projects; however, they’re also mindful that unplanned events will occur and that they’ll need to react swiftly and remain flexible throughout the project lifecycle.

Project managers come from many different industries and backgrounds. They also greatly differ in experience and training. However, by focusing on improving in the areas above and continuing to build and grow their skill sets, project managers can improve their chances of achieving success on their future projects.