The Top 8 Characteristics of EPIC Project Managers


To be a project management guru, you must think like a project management guru

Project management isn’t for sissies; it’s a combination of great organizational and people skills, nerves of steel and the visionary capabilities of the Oracle of Delphi. The best way to go about project management is to study the top 2% and pick their brains for the best project management strategies and tips. That’s what a recent Alpha Project Managers study did when it studied 5000 of the best project managers in North America. Here are the eight top characteristics shared by these project management gurus:

Love your job

If project management isn’t your passion, it will show in the quality of your work and the depth of your commitment. You can be a good project manager, but to be truly great, you must feel enthusiastic about going to work in the mornings (OK, maybe less so on Mondays), seek out every opportunity to improve your skills and strive to emulate the feats of those project management legends you admire most.

Hone your skills

Specialize in a particular field of project management that you enjoy most. Sure, it’s good to have a broad understanding of project management in general, but being the jack of all trades will leave you master of none; find your niche and own it!

Find your management style

Find a style of managing your colleagues that suits your personality so that your management style is natural and doesn’t seem forced. Your colleagues are more likely to respect your authority when it’s  genuine. Being able to effectively manage other players on the project is the key to project management success.

Be a brilliant leader

Set out goals and guidelines for reaching them from the outset of every project. Follow up and revaluate those goals as the project progresses. The setting of goals also implies the ability to prioritize effectively. Doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done and not getting tripped up by unimportant details is what makes a project manager effective.

Be a good listener

No, I really mean it. The only way to be a good leader or to effectively revaluate goals is to really listen to all the players on your team. Create predictable, stable channels of communication that are open to everyone. Provide a forum for discussion and really listen to what your team is saying. You don’t have to take everyone’s suggestions, but listening to your team will give you an accurate idea of how the project is progressing, suggestions for improved efficacy and possible dangers on the road ahead. Be a great listener and a great communicator; your project management success depends on it.

Be a good sifter

In project management, there is always too much data, too many emails and too much to do. This means you must be able to sift through data and information quickly and have the ability to identify what’s important and what isn’t. You can’t do everything, so you must have the ability to quickly identify those areas which deserve your attention.

Be a problem solver

While pre-empting problems is the best way to ensure that a project runs smoothly, you aren’t actually the Oracle of Delphi and you will find yourself in the odd pickle from time to time. When it comes to project management, problems are inevitable and it’s your ability to deal with them that will determine your worth. You need to be level-headed, make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision and then take action. The sooner you make a decision, the sooner your team can move forward and make progress. Act confidently and communicate clearly so that your team’s morale isn’t negatively affected by the problems you encounter on the way.

It’s who you know

Networking is the backbone of successful project management. When problems arise, or when you are putting together a team to work on an important project, knowing the right people will be an invaluable asset. This means that you will sometimes have to help others out in a project management pinch, but effective networking will provide you with the contacts you need to succeed.

Project management is a complex career that requires a plethora of skills. That’s what makes the effective project manager such a rare and sought-after creature. While some of the skills may come naturally to you, find ways to compensate for those that don’t. If you are a really great leader, but lack organizational skills, then spend the extra money on a personal assistant who is an organizational ninja. Have trouble communicating? Take a course and utilize technology to find a form of communicating that suits you. Between emails, video chats, social media and face-to-face meetings, there is sure to be a communication style that fits your personality. Project management is a skill that you can harness with a little practice and a lot of perseverance.


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