Six Attributes of Highly Successful Project Managers

Project Management - Soft Skills

Whether you are a successful project manager or one that is “just learning the ropes”, I bet you can easily identify your peers that are highly successful project managers. They are the ones that are consistently delivering projects on time, within budget, and with results that meet or exceed stakeholders’ expectations. These high achievers understand that leadership and people skills are more important to their success than an effective methodology or project tracking tools.

It may sound “touchy-feely” to talk about “soft skills”, but what we are talking about are not warm hugs and sing-a longs. We are talking about essential soft skills that a project manager must master to deliver successful projects. Check out the following six attributes and think about how many you have mastered.

They have vision and foresight

A solid project manager has the ability to look “down the road” with the goal of looking out for potential hazards and risks that can potentially derail the project. A good example would be identify team members that are having difficulties and getting them help before their deficiencies effect the project. Another example would be recognizing a stakeholder’s proficiency at “changing their mind” early on and implementing stronger change control processes to keep the project on track.

They’re organized

This one may seem obvious, but it is a specific kind of “organization” that we are speaking of. We are not talking OCD about placement of items on their desk. We are talking about the ability to understand project priorities, focus on what is important, and guide the team toward that goal. If the PM that is steering the ship doesn't’t have their priorities and objectives clear, how can they possibly hope to guide the team successfully?

They know how to lead

Successful project managers know how to interact and influence multiple project stakeholders including fellow team members and project sponsors. In many cases some or all of the project team members don’t report directly to the project manager. The project manager must be able to motivate fellow team mates to accomplish the project objectives, even though the team member doesn't’t work directly for them. In addition, project managers need to maintain their stakeholder and sponsor’s confidence in their ability to deliver. There are times when a timeline or budget needs to be renegotiated, but your project sponsors need to have confidence that you can deliver in spite of the challenges.

The know how to communicate

Successful project managers know how to use the tools at their disposal to keep all members of the project team informed and coordinated. Email, meetings, and status reports represent the basic channels. But it’s not just about using these channels; it’s about using the right channel to communication the right information as well as knowing how to use the right amount of detail with the right frequency. Communicate too much detail too frequently and your recipients might tune out.

They are practical and realistic

Project managers rely on their team members to be successful. For the project to be successful the project manager must understand what motivates their stakeholders so that they can utilize the team to achieve those objectives. If you understand your project stakeholder’s goals and objectives, you can take practical and realistic steps to target that outcome.


Level 5 Partners offers mentoring and guidance to help organizations achieve project delivery excellence. In addition we offer the vPMO, a completely integrated web based solution that can be used to implement the processes discussed in this blog entry.

Please be sure to check it out: Virtual Program Management Office (vPMO)

We love sharing our knowledge and information about our offerings. If you find the vPMO interesting, contact us for a free no obligation demonstration.

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