What Makes a Good Project Manager: 19 Skills You Need to Have

Author: Madalina Roman

In this competitive world, it’s hard to stay ahead of the game and be the best version of your work self towards your project and your teammates. Nobody seems to forget the experience of working with a truly good project manager. 

Those unforgettable professionals stand out in the crowd only by demonstrating features that are more than welcome to make a positive mark on every professional bond that is shared.

It’s crucial to be and to have a good project manager because there’s knowledge and rich influence to absorb, to improve one’s skills. 

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Throughout this article, you’ll get to see what makes a good project manager, which are the hard and soft skills to aspire to, as well as their common features. However, you’ll also get to see what’s an example of a bad project manager and how to spot it in your daily work environment. 

What makes a good project manager?

Being a good project manager requires a lot of effort towards your personality, as well as a set of soft and hard skills. Those features are the ones that prepare you for the improvement of your work method and the way you deal with your team and your project.

It’s not easy to be a good project manager because it entails being 100% prepared for every front, even the unexpected. But in reality, there’s no need for perfection, only the best and most committed version of your professional self.

There’s always a team expecting your guidance and improvement, as well as your project that depends on your capacity to prioritize and manage all the different actions.

In the end, the final goal is to achieve all those objectives that were established at first.

Read also: What is effective project management?

ending a meeting

1. Negotiation

This is mandatory when we talk about being a good project manager.

This is where a good project manager demonstrates the capacity to negotiate with the stakeholders about what can be delivered within the limits of the project itself.

It’s a great skill to have to manage expectations from both ways and to keep everything stable throughout the project’s journey.

TIP: A PMP certification may be a good way to improve your negotiation skills.

2. Communication

Communication is the base of every work collaboration, you must share that feature in your work method. With clients, your team, and yourself, a clear line of communication is one of the best skills to have in your repertoire. 

TIP: Learn how to improve your communication skills.

3. Organization

This is one of the main roles of a project manager.

It’s impossible to have a successful project without some sort of organization. For that, you have to think ten steps ahead and organize every aspect of the project that needs your guidance.

Make sure that you’re prepared to provide all the information and documentation to your respective team, and keep them in the loop at all times.

TIP: Organization skills can be improved by taking an online project management course.

4. Prioritization

Prioritization is the keyword for any project that one gets involved in.

As a project manager, it’s your job to define the urgency and importance of every task. Also, you need to assign every task to the member of the team you think is the expert on it.

Goal reaching is only possible when you’re able to prioritize all the different actions, and in that way, it would be easier to monitor its progress.

Free eBook: The Project Manager’s Handbook on Time Tracking

Get your step-by-step guide to master your time tracking skills

Are you looking for help prioritizing the workload? Read our post to know the best prioritization methods.

5. Planning

Throughout every project, planning never stops. Every slot of the day should be carefully planned with prioritized tasks.

From meetings, commitments, and tasks, there’s a lot of strategic thinking into the best plan for everything you have to deal with. It would be best if you always stayed sharp toward future challenges.

TIP: Types of project management reports

6. Delegating

A project manager can’t successfully take on all tasks in every given project. Although his presence is essential every step of the way, sometimes there’s a solid need to delegate many of the tasks ahead.

Unnecessary meetings, tasks that are not of your expertise, and so forth, are some of the elements that you can and should assign to one of your chosen teammates. 

Read also: The guide to effectively delegate tasks.

project budget sheet on smartphone

7. Budget management

Every project needs budget management. One of the most critical skills and jobs of the project manager is to make sure that the project maintains the budget that was initially established.

It’s also important to overlook the course of the project so it doesn’t spiral under control.  

8. Leadership

Not everybody can be a natural-born leader. However, being a good project manager entails the great capacity of leading your team towards a great and prosperous future.

If you’re having issues with this, you might be interested in our post “How to lead a team“.

9. Motivation

To achieve all the project management goals, the person who is guiding the team through it must be fighting for them.

It’s healthy to promote a safe and motivational pathway every chance you get. Make sure that you keep a motivated team and a good work environment, your team members feel that straight away.

Free eBook: The Project Manager’s Handbook on Time Tracking

Get your step-by-step guide to master your time tracking skills

10. Conflict management

When you have so many people working on a single project it’s evident that some things might not work that well. With the quality of conflict management, you’re able to address the problem at hand, mediate, and fix it, for the sake of your team and your project.

Learn how to handle scheduling conflicts in an easy way.

11. Adaptability

Unprecedented events are too inevitable to not happen during your project. Deals fall apart, opportunities are eradicated, and left to pick up the pieces and make the best out of a catastrophic situation.

That’s why the skill of adaptability transforms the way you act as a project manager. In that way, you’re able to quickly assess everything and figure out what’s plan B.

12. Endless resources

When getting involved in a project you must have a range full of resources for any case that might appear during the development of your project.

Those same elements will be the ones that will elevate your project to its established goals.

a team of 4 people, 2 men and 2 women working

13. Teamwork

Although you’re leading your coworkers within your project, you also have to be a team player alongside them.

To excel you need to be able to work in synergy and collaboration. It’ll be an easier job to complete because teamwork increases productivity.

14. Influence

There’s a great soft skill that can help your team follow the visions you have for your project, and that is influence.

When you share your aspirations for your project with your coworkers, they begin to understand the passion behind it. That’s a great step towards the right kind of influence on your team to achieve collaboration.

5 Personal traits that every PM needs

Apart from the soft and hard skills that improve the quality of your job as a project manager, there are also some personal traits that you could benefit from.

If you define yourself with these attributes, being a project manager would be the right job for you:

1. Proactivity

A project manager must always demonstrate proactivity on their end. They are capable of leading a team and fighting for their cause at all times.

2. Good decision making

Invested in making hard decisions, a project manager should always have a sense of good and quick decision-making.

The everyday life of a project manager is full of events that could have major repercussions. Their job is to define what’s better for everyone involved.

3. Capable of envisioning the future

A project manager should always be thinking ten steps ahead of everyone. To protect the team and the project, it’s important to have a clear view of the future and the best way forward.

4. Strategic thinking

To achieve the project’s goals, the project manager must have a thorough plan that covers all the fronts needed.

Strategic thinking does exactly that because it allows the project manager to think of all the possibilities.

5. Devoted

For a good project manager, devotion and commitment are crucial elements to achieving every goal the project has established. With those attributes, stopping until the project is completed won’t be possible.

8 traits to avoid as a project manager

If you want to know what makes a good project manager, you might be interested in knowing what to avoid becoming a bad project manager.

A bad project manager stands as a great obstacle to your project’s and team’s development, as well as the achievement of the goals. And, you don’t want to be this kind of project manager.

It can be a traumatic experience to work with a bad project manager, and it can also leave scars for the next professional challenges.

So, here are 8 things to avoid if you’re a project manager:

  1. Procrastination: If a project manager is constantly postponing some tasks or is not worried about the stakeholders, deadlines, timings, and the health of the team;
  2. Micromanagement: When a project manager insists on looking through every single detail of every process, leaving with the feeling of suffocation;
  3. Unrealistic optimism: When there’s a forceful sense of unrealistic optimism in your work environment, it can’t be like that all the time;
  4. Unrealistic pessimism: When there’s a cloud of constant pessimism throughout the day, and the spirits are not motivated;
  5. Saying yes to everything: This project manager has no notion of the toll of pilling tasks. They’re willing to burden you with multiple tasks without worrying if you’re comfortable with it;
  6. Thinks that knows it all: This type of professional insists that their expertise lies in every aspect as a team member, project manager, and expert. This entails that they’re willing to discredit your entire process;
  7. Poor communication: Poor communication is always found in bad project managers. They might fail to inform you of important details that could help you develop your job.
  8. Taking credit for everything: When you work hard your project manager takes credit for everything you and your team have achieved.


Unfortunately, bad project managers can be found everywhere, you just need to look out for the signs.

But, now, after reading our article, you know what makes a good project manager. So, avoid at all costs being the project manager that you wouldn’t like.

Please, remember that it isn’t all about soft and hard skills. You also need some personality traits that will help you to stand out and do a good job.

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