Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Top 10 Skills Every Project Manager Needs

For years I have asked myself, "What are the skills a project manager really needs?" Early in my career I had no idea what I needed to know. And then I discovered the minimum skill-set as defined by the Project Management Institute. Even with some understanding of what skills I needed, I continued to ask, "What else is needed and why?"

In this blog post I answer these burning questions using what I know about project management with support from the internet. Make no mistake; more than 10 skills are needed to be successful! Here's my list of the 10 skills that are most important, in no certain order:

1.  Communication (more)
2.  Leadership (more)
3.  Negotiation (more)
4.  Problem Solver (more)
5.  Proactive (more)
6.  Trustworthy (more)
7.  Risk Management (more)
8.  Flexible and Firm (more)
9.  Integrity (more)
10  Accountability (more)

In summary, throughout the life of the project, I tell my project team that as long as we have consensus on a decision that affects the direction of the project I will always be the spokesperson for the team. Further, I will be the one to have the difficult discussions with management if/when the project gets significantly off baseline. To my credit, I have had few instances where a project was considered to be in trouble. And in those instances, the team has always been able to recover the project successfully.

You might notice some of these skills support other skills and vice-versa. In many ways they are like the bricks in a building: remove one brick and the building could tumble to the ground! I encourage all project mangers, new and seasoned, to continuously develop these 10 skills to ensure the success of their projects and their careers.


  1. The ordering of the skills is perfect. Communication skills should always be #1, and leadership #2.

    I have published a long while ago some common Project Management skills in an article titled how to become a project manager, it includes a few skills that are not mentioned above, such as being organized. Can you think of any successful Project Manager who is disorganized?

  2. PM Hut--I agree that organization is important. I think being proactive implies one is organized, although I can see need to have this better explained in my post. Thanks for your insight.

  3. Hello Will, this is a good list. I would rank integrity higher, we get more things done if people believe what we say! It's similar to trustworthy, I suppose.
    Glad to have found your blog.

  4. Elizabeth, I do believe integrity is very important. I didn't really put these items in any order.