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Project Manager’s Top 10 Skills to Be an Effective Leader

Daniel Linman
June 19, 2012

What abilities to possess in order to lead a team

top 10 project leadership skillsA good project manager always knows for sure how to be effective in managing teams. That person has a certain set of skills and talents that make him/her an effective project leader. But what are those leadership qualities? How to be good at project leadership? Below I give a list of the top 10 skills that every project manager must possess and develop in order to be an effective leader. The skills are listed in rank order, according to their importance.


1. Visionary

An effective project leader needs to be a visionary who has a clear idea of when to best start work and where to move further. A visionary leader has a powerful and discerning mind that enables to develop a share vision regarding a project and then inspire people to move towards the right direction.

And no matter whether the project is at the Initiation, Implementation or any other stage, the leader always recognizes the best way of doing the project. He or she knows how to enable teams to feel they have a real stake in the project.

2. Competence

This ability means believing that a manager really knows what he or she is doing. A competent leader is able to act effectively in a wide variety of situations within a project. That person has sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to meet leadership commitments.

A competent project manager is able to challenge, motivate and supervise the team. His or her expertise allows making competent decisions.

read more about PM role.

3. Team Building

Another skill that project leaders must possess in order to be effective is team building. A team builder provides the framework for holding team members together and motivating them. That person is able to acquire, develop and manage a single cohesive unit that works together towards achieving collaborative goals and tasks.

Read these tips to learn more about team building.

4. A Good Communicator

A project manager needs to communicate with teams and stakeholders about goals, resources, duties, performance, issues, expectations, feedback and so on. The ability to establish and maintain communications between people in a project is necessary for effective leadership. The manager should be a good communicator in order to reach mutual understanding, solve conflicts, and create and share the right meaning of ongoing events and actions.

A good leader should effectively negotiate with the senior management and customers as well. He or she needs to be able to persuade people and direct their efforts. Through effective communications, the leader commits teams, supports their achievements and provides explicit guidelines for accomplishing results.

5. Delegator

Task delegation is an important skill that lets project leaders share or transfer authority and associated duties to lower level managers or team members. An effective leader is a good delegator who knows how to best share responsibilities between subordinates.

The ability to delegate is based on trust. If a manager demonstrates trust in others he or she is able to effectively delegate. That person should closely check and control team work in order to achieve effective task delegation. Meanwhile, the manager should never try to micromanage because micromanagement is often de-motivating employees and destructing teamwork.

6. Problem Solving

This skill allows a manager to identify, explore and understand a problem in order to reach an appropriate solution. It is part of an individual’s critical thinking skills and should be developed in order for the manager to be able to remove any gap between desired outcomes and actual situation.

Learn about an effective approach to problem solving.

7. Being Honest

One more important skill project managers must possess is honesty. Leadership based on integrity and openness paves the way for earning trust and respect. An honest manager is able to lead effectively and explain value to the team. He or she must demand commitment to ethical practices and demonstrate best practices as well.

This ability is critical to effective leadership as it determines whether a manager will be able to motivate and commit team members. It involves creating a set of values to be shared and followed by every team member. The leader needs to ensure team behaviors consistent with those values and a moral code.

8. Being an Enthusiast

An enthusiastic project manager is able to solve almost any issue. A positive approach and enthusiastic attitude to project management make teams believe that things are much easier and quite solvable. Managers with enthusiasm are so committed to their responsibilities and express this commitment through optimism.

Enthusiasm is contagious, and when a project leader is confident and enthusiastic every team member starts sharing the optimistic expectations as well. The entire team is led into an invigorating journey in which everyone feels alive and positive. And no pessimistic behavior is allowed!

9. Empathy

Being an empathic project leader means having the ability to understand and enter into a team member’s attitude to work. An empathic leader is able to acknowledge that there may be some circumstances outside of work that sometimes reduce individual performance and effectiveness.

This ability also means being able to listen to every team member. A good leader always knows what’s happening in the team and what troubles every team member face.

10. Being Stress-Resistant

When encountering any stressful event an effective leader consider it interesting. It is a kind of challenge that makes the leader find new solutions. It is an opportunity to create a new image of the future and determine how things will happen.

Stress-resistance also means being able to work hard and under pressure. An effective project leader always has and follows a strategy that articulates how to cope with challenges, do tasks right, and improve overall job performance.

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