Skills Needed to Become a Successful Project Manager


Strong project management skills are beneficial whether you make it your full-time career path or utilize it to fuel your independent work. One of the most beautiful aspects of project management is that anyone can do it; the skills aren’t industry-specific and are highly transferable.

If you’re interested in becoming a successful project manager, whether independently or in your existing role, work on developing these essential skills.

Analytical Problem-Solving Skills

Critical thinking and problem-solving is perhaps the most critical aspect of project management. Even with the most careful planning and preparation, issues will inevitably arise. The ability to choose the right path forward can make or break a project.

Taking an analytical approach to problem-solving is what sets great project managers apart from the rest. The globally recognized Six Sigma Certification is built around the concept of using statistical analysis and data-driven decision-making to put controls in place and limit the variables in a project. Having this integral skill is the first step toward becoming a better project manager— and having the credentials is worth it too.

Strong Interpersonal Communication Skills

The skills required to be a great project manager are diverse and often contradictory. At the opposite end of the spectrum from analytics and data is being able to communicate as a compassionate, thoughtful leader. Identifying what needs to be done is just the first part of the equation; empowering people to take ownership of the process is quite another.

Managing big projects— whether it’s implementing a new supply chain management system or working to develop and release an app— is stressful for all involved. Project work is also highly enmeshed, with work completion being contingent on other people and tasks.

Being able to communicate why certain actions matter is an invaluable skill. As a project manager working with teams, you’ll need to strike a balance between pushing deadlines and being empathetic to the humans doing the work.

Time Management and Organization

Time management and organization are often the first things that come to mind when considering project management skills. However, you’ll need to go above and beyond the basics of time management and organization to keep endless balls in the air while navigating the moving parts of a project plan.

To become a time management guru, you must implement structure, create systems for yourself, and understand how to prioritize. On a personal level, the ability to set boundaries is everything.

The Ability to Look at the Bigger Picture

When outlining a project, it’s essential to drill down into the minutia and clarify each individual step required to reach the goal. As a project manager, you must also zoom out and look at the entire picture.

This skill ties into the risk management and budgeting portion of the job. Assessing risk and putting plans in place to circumvent them requires forecasting what will happen ten steps ahead.

You’ll also have to use this skill to make tough decisions. Sometimes the ability to look at a bigger picture means killing a project after substantial time and resources have gone into making it happen. As a project manager, you’ll understand the treachery of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Collaborative and Independent Work Styles

It’s not uncommon for people to be good at either working alone or working with others, not both. As a project manager, you must be good at both collaboration and independent work.

The ability to collaborate and work in a team is paramount, as many projects require expertise from different team members and impact the various facets of a business. Conversely, you must also take your learnings and formulate them into a clear project plan, which is generally a job for one.

Becoming a project manager isn’t for everyone, but the skills that fuel this role are beneficial in almost any setting. Use these skills to advance your career and turn your goals into reality.


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