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Top 5 Characteristics of a Good Project Manager

Daniel Linman
August 6, 2012

A few tips on how be good at PM

5 characteristics of a good project managerI’ve been working as a project manager for years, and today I can say for sure that in my profession there is a lot of discussion about what characteristics make a project manager good at PM (project management). Some people think that strategic thinking along with leadership is the greatest characteristic. Others point out analysis and communication as the major characteristics, and so on.

Some time ago I wrote an article about 5 must-have skills that help project managers be great at their PM role. Since that time I’ve decided to explore this topic more, and today I’m going to describe top 5 characteristics of a good project manager. This article continues the series of how to be effective in managing PM roles and responsibilities.


As a good project manager, you need to have great knowledge and experience in various techniques and approaches regarding project data analysis. You must get a large PM toolkit which helps you explore and understand the specific needs of each project. Without this toolkit your ability to analyze project data appears to be limited and inefficient.

Tip: Look through the various guides and guidelines about project management including the PMBOK® Guide. As much you learn and as many ideas you explore, as larger your PM toolkit becomes. Also focus on specific areas within your PM practice to improve your experience and get a better understanding of common PM characteristics and mistakes.

Project Types

By the expression “project types” I mean an ability of a good project manager to work on different types of project including these ones:

  • Commercial
  • Development
  • Support

Each of these three types requires specific techniques and skills, so having worked at each project type allows you to enrich your knowledge and learn PM best practices.

Tip: Try to involve yourself in different business areas in order to understand overlapping functions and interdepartmental dependencies in the various project types. This characteristic will allow you to develop recommendations and propose solutions that are advantageous to the entire company, not to specific business areas.


This characteristics of a good project manager means that you need to be able to develop an intelligent work plan that identifies the best way of doing your project in terms of the objectives, constraints and resources.

The planning ability will help you think through various critical project characteristics, such as scope, time, funds, risk, deliverables, performance, and others. By having a good work plan you can determine how many interfaces your project will include and thus what PM methodology to use to best manage it.

Tip: Try to think through the people, resources and processes involved in your project in order to outline the tasks and deliverables needed for the project, to estimate resources needed for getting the work done, and to establish a process needed for managing the project. As a result, a good project plan is to be developed.

Strategic Thinking

As a good project manager you must see the big picture view of your project as well as do a deep dive into the project process. But before heading into the details you need to understand what strategic elements your project comprises.

I suggest you focus on these items when developing a strategic approach for your project:

  • Scope
  • Time
  • Quality
  • Budget
Tip: Hold meetings with your stakeholders to discuss the four elements (Scope, Time, Quality, Budget) and agree on how the project will be managed at strategic level. By developing the Project Charter you state the PM authorities that will govern the project and direct project activities.

Facilitator and Adviser

A good project manager always works closely with all departments and teams of the business. In such a way this person gets a better understanding of the needs and problems to be addressed by projects. During the communications the manager becomes a facilitator who predicts and solves conflicts as well as an adviser who gives valued recommendations and best solutions.

Tip: Have close and frequent discussions with all divisions and teams of the business to determine what’s most important for an upcoming project and to understand the pains and values that must be addressed as well.

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