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Project Manager Skills & Personality Characteristics

by Marilyn Lindblad

It takes a certain kind of personality to succeed in project management. Project managers must juggle the classic triangle of deadline, scope and budget. They also need the people skills to motivate project team members and manage stakeholders' expectations. For the right person, a project management career can be both challenging and fulfilling.

Communication Skills

Successful project managers communicate clearly, set reasonable expectations for team members and stakeholders, and work to ensure they fulfill those expectations. An effective project manager is as comfortable communicating with executive stakeholders as she is talking to subordinate project team members, and she is adept at cross-cultural communication. Project managers engage in active listening to ensure that they understand feedback from project stakeholders. At meetings, they are experts at sticking to an agenda and keeping a discussion on point.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills enable a project manager to synthesize the information she receives from team members to ensure the project meets its milestones and stays on budget. Every day, project managers receive information about vendors, expenses, problems, goals and delays. These data come from multiple sources, often with varying degrees of accuracy and reliability. Project managers must filter and process this information in such a way that she has a realistic view of how the project is progressing. She must also have the ability to spot weaknesses and address them quickly to ensure the project gets back on track.

Leadership Skills

A project manager's leadership skills keep the project moving to completion. According to Steven Flannes, author of a report titled, "People Skills for the Project Manager," project managers should be a visionary, facilitator and mentor in addition to being a manager. By sharing his vision, the project manager helps team members focus on the "why" of what they're doing. As a manager, he is accountable for the quality, cost and timeliness of the project. As a facilitator, he makes sure the team has every reasonable resource it needs to accomplish its work. Finally, as a mentor he encourages team members to stretch their skills and accomplish things they hadn't believed possible.

Personality Traits

A range of personality types can achieve success in project management. For example, an extroverted project manager enjoys leading meetings, negotiating with contractors, resolving disputes and communicating with stakeholders. An introverted project manager enjoys the many hours spent alone reviewing numbers, updating reports, analyzing data and planning. Project managers must move fluidly between abstract concepts such as vision and ideals as well as concrete issues like cost overruns and delays. A flexible, adaptable personality is well suited for project management.

About the Author

Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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