What makes a good project manager?

What makes a good project manager?

By Published On: 2. October 2023


Well, do you know a project manager? No, no, I don't mean just a manager. I'm talking about the superstars who not only organize people and work, but bring entire projects to life from the ground up! But, what makes a good project manager? What superpowers do they need to successfully manage projects and bring them to completion? Do they have magical abilities, or are they just good at organizing, planning, and building communication bridges? Is it possible to learn these skills or are they innate? In this article, let's go in search of clues together and find out what makes a good project manager. Accordingly, I grab you by your curiosity and invite you to start a journey with me into the world of project management superheroes. Stay tuned and let's get started!

Understanding the role of a project manager

First, you need to ask a question: What exactly does a project manager actually do? Most importantly, how is his or her role defined in the environment of a project? A project manager is often the steer and navigator who navigates the project through a wide variety of challenges to achieve the goal. His or her responsibilities are varied and include everything from budget planning to stakeholder management. Dive deeper into the role of a project manager and see what makes a good project manager.

The requirements for a good project manager

One of the main characteristics that a good project manager should have is the ability to be flexible and adaptable. In the world of project management, unexpected twists and turns often occur, be it due to financial difficulties, personnel changes or the like. In such cases, it takes someone who can think and act quickly to find the best solution and keep the project on track. Clear communication is also a must in this role, as a project manager is constantly in contact with different stakeholders. Therefore, he or she must be able to communicate clearly and concisely while keeping an open ear for others' input.

The technical skills and expertise that a project manager brings to the table are also critical. Projects of all types require a thorough familiarity with the industry or discipline involved. A good understanding of the underlying processes and procedures enables a project manager to make informed decisions and find the best possible solutions.

Developing and strengthening your skills as a project manager

In addition to basic technical skills and knowledge, there is also a whole range of soft skills that a successful project manager should master. These include leadership skills, problem-solving skills, negotiation skills, and the ability to manage stress. It is important to work on and strengthen these skills in order to be successful in the role of project manager.

The ability to effectively lead and motivate a team is also a critical skill for a project manager. A project manager must be able to identify and leverage the strengths of each individual on their team to bring out the best in everyone. This requires open communication, fosters team cohesion, and creates an environment where everyone can reach their full potential.

In summary, the project manager plays a key role in any project. By understanding his role and by continuously improving and strengthening your skills, you can help ensure the success of any project.

Qualities that make you a good project manager

Being a good project manager is no walk in the park. It requires a lot of skills and qualities to be successful. It is the qualities that make you stand out from the crowd and contribute to the success of your projects. Passion, confidence and empathy come to mind first, but there are countless other qualities that come into play.

Passion and confidence

Passion is the decisive factor that can make the difference. A passionate project manager is always willing to go the extra mile to make his project a success. Whether there is a crisis to overcome or he needs to inspire his team to take the final step, his passion is contagious and drives everyone involved.

Self-confidence is similarly high on the list. A project manager must be able to make decisions with conviction, even when things get tough. It is this self-confidence that helps him stay calm when things don't go according to plan, and it is this self-confidence that gives his team the assurance that they are on the right track. He should be able to assess the situation, find the best way forward, and then move forward with determination.

Empathy and strong communication skills

Empathy is another significant quality. An effective project manager must be able to understand how his team members and stakeholders think and feel. This enables him to properly motivate the team and effectively resolve potential conflicts. It is this understanding of his colleagues' perspectives and needs that helps him create a harmonious work environment.

Communication is the foundation for any successful project. A good project manager must be able to communicate his ideas and plans clearly. Both verbally and in writing. He should also be able to listen to and address the feedback and concerns of his team. This requires both the ability to break down complicated concepts into understandable information and the ability to listen and show understanding.

In conclusion, there are a variety of skills and qualities that make you a good project manager. However, it is above all passion, self-confidence, empathy and communication skills that contribute significantly to the success of a project. Of course, the list of required skills and qualities is far from complete, but these traits provide a solid foundation for anyone who wants to step into this challenging role.

The most important skills of a successful project manager

Project management is an art form. You need a special level of talent and skill to manage the complex coordination process and bring it to effective action. While many skills and attributes have already been discussed, here are some of the most important skills you will need to be a successful project manager, but which are often overlooked.

Effective delegation and accountability

You need to be able to delegate effectively to be a good project manager. But delegation is more than just handing off tasks - it's about getting the right work to the right person and communicating accurate expectations. A savvy leader will pick each person's strengths and use them to the project's advantage. You must be able to delegate successfully while fostering accountability. This means that each member of the team takes responsibility for their role and accepts the consequences for not meeting or exceeding expectations.

Listening and conflict resolution skills

It's not enough to be a good speaker. You must also be a good listener. This can mean taking the time to listen to concerns, consider suggestions and encourage open discussion. You create an atmosphere where every employee feels they are heard and can make a valuable contribution to the project. Active listening skills ensure that no details are missed or overlooked and that employees feel respected and valued.

Another often overlooked aspect is conflict resolution skills. Nearly every project runs into conflict at some point, whether it's due to disagreements, different work styles, or stress. You need to be able to effectively resolve these conflicts to keep the team on track. You must be able to remain calm in stressful situations, focus on solving the problem rather than placing blame, and foster a positive atmosphere that leads to problem solving rather than hostility.

These important skills, coupled with those already discussed such as adaptability, quick thinking, clear communication, expertise and technical skills, passion, confidence and empathy make a good project manager. It is a significant role that should not be taken lightly and requires a lot of specific skills. Being a successful project manager means constantly learning and growing while being an effective leader and manager of projects and teams.

How to become an effective project manager

I am sure we can all agree that being a good project manager is not easy. Although many important skills and traits have already been mentioned, such as the importance of adaptability, clear communication and effective management, there are other aspects that should be discussed. Let's take a closer look at what factors are crucial to becoming an effective project manager.

Time management and organization skills

An effective project manager needs excellent organizational and time management skills. Without these skills, it is almost impossible to meet all project requirements. As a project manager, you must constantly prioritize, delegate tasks, coordinate deadlines, and stay on top of things. But that's not all. You also need to be able to manage spontaneous changes or unexpected challenges. If the project is to stay on track, you have to be like a juggler - always on the move, always keeping an eye on everything.

In addition to organizing the tasks of others, you must also manage their own time effectively. This includes using experience from previous projects to create effective schedules and ensuring that all tasks are completed on time.

Strategy development and decision making

Another important aspect of being an effective project manager is the ability to develop effective strategies and make decisions. As a project manager, you are ultimately the one who determines what direction the project will take and what solutions will be pursued when problems arise. To do this, you must be able to accurately assess the situation and rely on in-depth knowledge and experience.

Strategy development is not just a plan you create and follow. It requires a thorough analysis of project goals, available resources, and potential obstacles. A good project manager is a strategist who always keeps the big picture in mind and is able to find the best way to achieve the goal.

In terms of decision making, you often have to make difficult decisions that can affect the entire project. This requires courage, but also a willingness to take responsibility for the decisions made. It is important that you have the ability to make quick and effective decisions to achieve the project goals.

The bottom line is that becoming an effective project manager requires much more than simply completing tasks and mastering technical skills. It requires a range of interdisciplinary skills, including excellent organizational and time management skills, as well as the ability to develop effective strategies and make difficult decisions. Only then can you become an effective project manager and ensure the success of a project.

The importance of communication for a good project manager

A good project manager is not only characterized by technical knowledge or organizational skills, even though these are of course a great advantage. One skill in particular stands out: communication. Why is that? In short, communication is the link that holds all project elements together and ensures that all team members are working toward the same goal. Without effective communication, goals can remain unclear, misunderstandings can arise, and the entire project can fail.

Effective communication as a tool

The role of the project manager involves not only speaking, but also listening. This means the project manager must be open to feedback and also be able to present complicated issues in an understandable way. This in no way means that you should get lost in unnecessary details. On the contrary, clear and concise communication allows the team to understand expectations and promotes positive dynamics.

In addition, open and transparent communication that promotes the inclusion of all stakeholders allows potential conflicts or misunderstandings to be identified and addressed at an early stage. Through communication, the project manager builds a bridge between the needs of the client and the work of the team.

Communication as the key to problem solving

Sometimes projects can encounter challenges that could hinder stability or progress. Good communication plays a crucial role here as well. A good project manager is able to analyze information, identify relevant facts and communicate them with the team to find a solution together.

This can be done, for example, through regular meetings, e-mails or the use of project management tools. But no matter which tools or methods are used, it is important that communication is effective. This is the only way the team can stay informed, deal effectively with potential problems or crises, and ultimately complete the project successfully.

Communication is therefore a crucial aspect that characterizes a good project manager. It is the tool used to manage projects, resolve conflicts and lead teams to success. A good project manager therefore cultivates his or her communication skills and uses them purposefully and deliberately to achieve the best possible results. It is an art that can and must be learned and refined. Because no matter what project you have to manage, without the right communication, success is never guaranteed.

The project manager as team leader: What makes you good?

Anyone who has ever been part of a team knows how important the role of the team leader is. In project management, it is even more important. But what makes a project manager a good team leader? What skills and qualities do you need to perform your tasks effectively and successfully? Let's take a closer look at this together.

People skills and employee motivation

A crucial factor that makes you a good team leader is the ability to know your team members well and motivate them accordingly. A good project manager should be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and use their skills effectively. For example, you could strategically assign tasks based on each individual's strengths to maximize productivity and quality of work.

You also need to be able to motivate and spur on your employees. This is especially important when the team is under pressure or things are not going as planned. A good team leader recognizes when his team members are demotivated or having difficulties and takes appropriate action. This may consist of finding encouraging words, offering help or resolving conflicts.

Conflict management and team development

Conflicts are inevitable in any team. A good team leader must therefore be able to manage them effectively and maintain a positive working atmosphere. You must remain neutral, listen to your team members, and find equitable solutions. It is especially important to use these conflicts as opportunities to improve and develop the team.

Another important skill of a good team development project manager is his ability to lead and develop his team. You should be able to create a positive work environment that promotes the professional and personal development of your team members. This includes giving honest and constructive feedback and guiding and supporting your team members where needed.

So, in summary, a good project manager is much more than just a manager. You are a leader who knows, motivates and supports your team. You are the one who resolves conflicts and creates a positive working atmosphere. You are the one who makes your team members give their best and reach their full potential. You are the one who makes the success of a project possible.

Goal management: A core competence of good project managers

In the broad range of tasks project managers perform, there is one competency that is often overlooked but is of critical importance: goal leadership. A good project manager must be able to set clear goals and lead his team toward those goals. It is not enough to simply assign tasks and coordinate the process. Goal leadership means making decisions day after day that move the project closer to its goal. These decisions can be small and unimpressive, but together they can distinguish between success and failure.

Setting goals: The first step to successful goal setting

Goal management does not begin with execution, but with goal setting. When a project starts, a project manager must have a clear understanding of the end goal. This not only facilitates project planning, but also provides direction for the entire team. Here, the project manager must ensure that the objectives are SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. By setting clear and realistic goals, the team can effectively align their efforts and improve motivation, engagement and productivity.

However, setting goals does not mean that they are immutably set in stone. A good project manager must be flexible enough to adjust goals as circumstances change or new information becomes available. It is important to continually check whether goals are still relevant and achievable, and to make adjustments as necessary. A rigid attitude here can do more harm than good and steer the project in the wrong direction.

Team leadership towards the goals

Once the goals are set, the next important aspect of goal leadership comes in: leading the team toward those goals. This is where leadership skills play a crucial role. The project manager must inspire and motivate his team to do their best and constantly work toward the common goal.

An important part of team leadership to achieve goals is that each team member understands why a goal is being pursued and the role their work plays in achieving it. Only when team members understand the purpose of their tasks and feel their contributions are valued can they bring their full commitment and creativity to the project.

At the same time, the project manager must be able to identify and resolve problems and obstacles early on that could keep the team from achieving its goals. This can include conflicts within the team as well as technical, financial or scheduling challenges. A good project manager is therefore not only a "goal leader" but also a problem solver and motivator.

In short, a good project manager must be a "goal leader." This requires both strategic thinking and planning in goal setting, as well as leadership and problem solving in leading the team toward those goals. It is important to emphasize that ultimately the team achieves the goals - but it is the project manager's job to guide and support them along the way.

Problem-solving skills: A must for a good project manager

How do you manage an outstanding project team and deliver a successful project? How do you overcome barriers and exceed expectations? Unfortunately, since these are fairly complex questions, there is no simple answer. But there is one particular skill that is indeed key: problem-solving skills. A good project manager must have these skills in order to effectively manage any problem that arises and find an optimal solution quickly. But what aspects do these skills involve and how can you develop or improve them?

Analytical thinking: the key to problem solving

Analytical thinking is the first and essential step in problem solving. Whether dealing with technical challenges, schedule changes or budget issues, a good project manager must be able to carefully analyze the situation. That means gathering the relevant information, identifying the possible causes of the problem, and then evaluating the options for fixing it. But beyond that, he or she must also anticipate what impact the various solutions might have on the project's progress and on the team. By doing so, the project manager should try to minimize the negative impact and achieve the best results. Even if he doesn't always have all the answers, analytical thinking gives him the tools to make informed decisions.

Creativity: Making the best of the problem

A problem is always a challenge. Sometimes it even seems that there is no solution. But that's not true. There is always a solution, even if it is not immediately visible. This is where creativity comes into play. A good project manager must be able to think outside the box, find unconventional solutions and see challenges as opportunities. Creativity allows him or her to explore new paths, try alternative approaches, and ultimately find the optimal solutions. Creativity is also important to inspire and motivate the team to make the best of any problem and ultimately contribute to the success of the project.

In summary, no project runs smoothly. There are always obstacles and problems to overcome. But a good project manager with excellent problem-solving skills can overcome these obstacles and lead his project to success. This requires both analytical thinking and creativity and makes the difference between a normal and an excellent project manager. Anyone who has these skills and can use them effectively is well on their way to being a successful project manager. And anyone who wants to improve these skills should remember that they can be developed with practice and experience. After all, nothing is more important than constantly learning and growing. After all, that's what makes the true identity of a great project manager!

Negotiation skills: Why are they so important for you as a project manager?

As a project manager, you know what it's like: between deadlines, budget planning and team meetings, there are always situations in which you have to reconcile different interests. Your negotiating skills play a key role here. It's not for nothing that negotiation skills are one of the top competencies required in many job descriptions. But why are they so important for you as a project manager?

Influence on your project and its efficiency

Your negotiation skills have a significant impact on the success of a project and increase efficiency. It's about finding compromises and at the same time getting the best out of the project. It is often the "small" negotiations in everyday work that can make the difference between success and failure. As a project manager who negotiates skillfully, you achieve more acceptance for changes, get concessions more easily and improve the working atmosphere.

But negotiations are by no means always about winning. It is much more a question of balancing interests and finding win-win situations. As a good project manager, you also try to understand and include the position of the other side.

Increasing the satisfaction of all participants

Another aspect of why negotiation skills are so important to you as a project manager is keeping everyone happy. Every project involves a large number of stakeholders - from the customer and the team to suppliers and partners. Different expectations, goals and interests come together and have to be reconciled.

Adept negotiation skills help you find compromises that satisfy all sides. As a project manager who can negotiate skillfully, you create a positive working atmosphere, increase the motivation of the team and lead to a better relationship with customers and partners. It is important to negotiate in a fair and respectful manner and to take into account the needs and interests of all parties involved.

All in all, negotiation skills are indispensable for you as a project manager. Although they are often underestimated, they have an enormous influence on the success and efficiency of your projects and contribute to the satisfaction of all parties involved. And, last but not least, they enable you to keep your head up even in difficult situations and find the best solution for everyone. So, on to the next negotiation!

Crisis management: A crucial aspect of your project management

Oh, crisis management! Yes, this is an achievement that can make a real difference. No matter how well you plan a project, unexpected difficulties can arise and turn everything upside down. We live in an imperfect world, after all. Crisis management plays a key role in such moments, so that everything doesn't fall through the cracks. It requires steadfastness, smart action and effective damage control, so that your project does not break in the crisis. In such confusions you need an intelligent crisis management!

Reactivity and quick action in crisis situations

Crises can come in different forms, and no, they don't usually knock on the door before they breeze in. They often arise unexpectedly and require quick reactions. This is the moment when you, as a project manager, can shine with quick action. The ability to react to crises with lightning speed is crucial to their course and outcome. You must immediately find out what went wrong, where and why. Then you must thoroughly analyze the situation and develop a crisis intervention plan. Immediate action can limit the damage and promote a quick recovery. Remember, it's not whether you fall, but how quickly you get back up.

Communication and transparency during the crisis

Transparent communication is key in critical times. We've already talked about communication skills, but here they are even more important. During a crisis, you need to keep all relevant parties informed and let them know what's going on, what actions are being taken, and what they can expect. This often requires difficult conversations and dealing with conflict-laden scenarios. Making excuses or downplaying the situation won't get you anywhere. Openness and transparency, on the other hand, maintain the appreciation and trust of everyone involved. Make sure everyone is well informed and feels that action is being taken to address the situation.

Crisis management is definitely not the most pleasant task in project management. But it is an essential skill that will help you when things get tough. Your ability to react quickly to a crisis and communicate effectively can turn the tide and save your project from failure. It's also a test of your leadership, decision-making and problem-solving skills. Remember, crisis management is no walk in the park, but with the right skills and attitude, it can be a game changer. Never give up when the going gets tough!

To cut a long story short, crisis management is also a kind of baptism of fire! Put yourself to the test in difficult times and you will see how good you really are. Yes, it can be hard, but always remember: After the crisis comes the sun! Hang in there and you will see what you are capable of. With a good dose of crisis management, you are well on your way to becoming an absolute top project manager. Be ready to weather any storm!

Responsibility and honesty as key elements of a good project manager

Now that you've looked at the many qualities and skills of a good project manager, we'd like to highlight two important aspects that are often overlooked but can be crucial: Accountability and Honesty. These two values are essential to creating a healthy work atmosphere and gaining the trust of the team. Think about it, would you like to follow someone who is dishonest and doesn't take their responsibilities seriously? Pretty sure no one would, right?!

The role of responsibility in project management

Taking responsibility is easy to say, but it means much more than just taking the blame when something goes wrong. It's about taking the lead, making decisions and understanding the impact of those decisions. It also means taking control of your own actions and your role on the team.

A good project manager takes full responsibility for the project and for ensuring that it is completed successfully. This is crucial because it encourages the team to do the same and take their tasks seriously. Responsibility is also closely related to accountability. An accountable project manager regularly reports the progress of the project, the highs and lows, and everything in between.

Honesty as the basis for trust and open communication

Honesty plays a crucial role in every relationship, including project management. Transparent and open communication throughout creates a climate of trust and cooperation. According to the old saying "Honesty is the best policy", it is incredibly important to always tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant.

Honesty builds trust between the project manager and the team. When employees feel that their manager is honest with them, they will be more willing to talk openly about their concerns, ideas and suggestions. This can lead to better solutions and move the entire project forward. Equally important, honest communication helps avoid misunderstandings and sets clear expectations.

To sum it all up, responsibility and honesty are key elements that make a good project manager. They are the foundation not only for successful projects, but also for strong and effective teams. A strong and effective team is known to be the key to the success of any project. So, be brave, honest and responsible, and you will be a damn good project manager!

How to become a better project manager through continuous learning

In this part, you not only wear the hat of an organizer and leader, but also that of the eternal student. You are always eager to learn and keep up to date with the latest technologies and methods in project management. Continuing education is not only a plus on your resume, but it makes you a better project manager!

Why education is important in project management

Education is important in many ways. Through it, you acquire new knowledge and update your existing knowledge to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the project management world. Apprenticeships not only bring you up to date, they also move you forward. Without continuous education, you won't be able to blaze the career path you desire. Additional qualifications and certifications can even open the doors to higher positions and salaries.

Continuing education also helps you grow personally. It improves your confidence, adaptability and problem-solving skills. These skills will not only make you a better project manager, but also a better person. With consistent training, you will constantly improve and expand your skills.

How to continue your education to become a better project manager

There are many ways to further your education in project management. For example, you can take specialized continuing education courses or certification programs. These courses often cover specific aspects of project management and help you stay up-to-date while gaining valuable qualifications.

But continuing education doesn't always have to be formal. You could even read books, follow blogs, listen to podcasts, or attend professional conferences to expand your knowledge. Any opportunity that brings you new knowledge is welcome.

Even as you gain more experience, you learn from your experiences. Every project brings new challenges and insights, and you can use those experiences to grow and learn.

But last but not least, be open to feedback. There is always room for improvement, and constructive criticism can help you identify areas you need to improve. So, always be attentive and ready to learn!

It is clear that constant training is a key to success in project management. There are always new things to learn and new skills to develop. By staying open to new experiences and actively acquiring new knowledge, you will constantly improve as a project manager. So, take every opportunity to learn, and you will see yourself getting better and better from project to project!

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About the Author: Sven Emmrich

Sven Emmrich avatar
Sven is a business graduate, DEKRA-certified coach and passionate entrepreneur. As CEO of Karrierehelden, he has been writing for many years on all career topics such as job applications and job changes, money and salary negotiations, leadership skills and management issues, psychology and personality development, communication and conflict management, self-confidence and entrepreneurship, and the line between work and private life with work-life balance... or much more work-life integration. Sven has coached over 1,000 academics, professionals and executives with his team and is happy to help you too.
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