Top 10 Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager

Just beginning my career in project management, I wanted to discover some of the ‘must have’ skills and qualities that the industry requires. After reading “Top 10 Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager,” I agree with majority of the qualities chosen, but not exactly with the rank order or the written descriptions. However, Barry and ESI International, a leader in project management training, have agreed upon the following ten characteristics in rank order.

  1. Inspires a Shared Vision
  2. A Good Communicator
  3. Integrity
  4. Enthusiasm
  5. Empathy
  6. Competency
  7. Ability to Delegate Tasks
  8. Cool Under Pressure
  9. Team Building Skills
  10. Problem Solving Skills

While the article supposedly addresses project management, I strongly believe that the above list could describe the Top 10 Leadership Qualities for all Leaders. Honestly, I was surprised that there was not much, if any, content specifically geared towards project management. In an industry where there are countless business professionals specialized in project management, I would have imagined more informative and eye opening content would have been included in the article. The biggest surprise to me was that Barry and ESI International are basically saying that any good leader would be a good project manager and while that could be true, I am not quite sold on that idea.

In order to enhance the Top 10 list to better accommodate project managers, I feel it is necessary to amend the description for #6 Competency. I believe competency is a major factor in successfully project management, but the description does not illustrate the full importance of it. The competency description reads:

“We must believe that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not however necessarily refer to the project leader’s technical abilities in the core technology of the business. As project management continues to be recognized as a field in and of itself, project leaders will be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on technical expertise, as in the past. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent. Expertise in leadership skills is another dimension in competence. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage must be demonstrated if leaders are to be seen as capable and competent.”

Yes, it is highly important for team members to know that their project manager knows what he or she is doing. But if a project manager is simply a good leader and has not mastered the core technical abilities of the business, no team member will want to follow them. An incompetent project manager with the necessary skill set but a good leader could be successful if they have other team members who are experts on the core business abilities; however, team members will be less inclined to follow someone who does not have the full knowledge or skill set.

Please feel free to share your opinion about what is right or wrong about the list, what is out of place, and what might be missing.



Barry, Timothy. Top 10 Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager. Project Times. Published May 16, 2012.


5 thoughts on “Top 10 Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager

  1. In the current situation of modern organizations, a Project Manager plays a key role in the success or business failure. That finding in itself expressed the vital importance of any project manager. And obviously, if he does not to fail in fulfilling his responsibilities, he should have several Qualities, such as those mentioned by the author of the blog to which I refer. I want to comment on some of them that seem to me very important:


    With the advance of time, some values have been losing, ​​which ones once constituted the foundation of society, in which the promises, the fulfillment of assigned responsibilities, honesty, loyalty, corporate owned, respect for ethical values, protection of children and the elderly, respect for institutions, law enforcement, respect for the ideas and conditions of other people, etc.., were followed with true civility.

    Unfortunately, today we must acknowledge with deep sadness and concern that social values ​​have undergone a profound change. In many organizations, some negative factors prevailing, like corruption, lawlessness, indiscipline, influence peddling, disrespect, disinterest in work, etc.. Briefly, integrity has deteriorated. Therefore, the Project Manager has to fight to return values and retrieve ​​integrity among all members of his company. So, he has to get that ethics be the pattern that guides all members of the organization.
    Let us also note that when we break the ethical values, we could be violating laws, which can create legal problems to us. And to have legal problems is not good for anyone. But, it is good to clarify that everything illegal is unethical, but not everything that lack the ethics is illegal.

  2. All Project Managers must make permanent decisions as part of their routine activities. These decisions range from the most basic level to more complex levels. So, it is the job of Project Manager to put in the service of his institution all his skills in the process of decision making.

    Most of these decisions deal with different types of problems. Among the many problems which he has to decide, are the inconvenient by the staff of the company, as absences and lack of commitment of some of them; inconvenient for returns to suppliers of materials and other goods; claims customers for non-delivery of orders, requirements of government agencies regarding taxes, unpaid presumably; left maintenance to equipment and machinery in the production line.

    Anyway, there are many and varied problems to be solved daily by Project Managers, which involve special skills to successfully resolve them, both for their professional performance and for the good of the organization. So, it can be added that the skills of Project Manager have to do broadly with all the other Qualities identified by the proposed blog author.

  3. I could not agree with you more the definition of competency in your example is based in a perfect world where industries are cookie-cutter. The though that even the best leader in a construction firm would be able to go to say a technology firm and be successful is a pipe dream. There are certain norms and ways people communicate in there industries. They though that I would have is to break competency down into two groups. One on the interpersonal side, and the other on the technical side. This would allow companies to come up with a rating scale or way of measuring how well an new manager would work within the already established business.

  4. I agree with most of what the list has to say, except for where they ranked the last item on the list: problem solving skills. I really think that belongs at a higher position because problem solving is critical for a leader to lead. The leader is at the front end of all that is happening within the project or company and many times people will look to the leader for solutions. If s/he does not have the critical skills necessary to solve problems as they come, there will be too much time lost in bureaucracy. There are many times where a leader must make a personal choice and solve things on their own terms and as such I believe problem solving should be much higher on the required skills that a leader must have.

  5. I see where you’re coming from Kacie, and I find myself somewhere in between the article’s definition of competency and expecting a project manager to have a full set of technical or business specific skills. For example, I do think it would be difficult for a complete outsider to manager an engineering project without having any engineering background or having worked in a similar industry. Coming at a deeply technical project completely cold would be difficult, even if the team were stocked full of talented, technical people. If those talented folks decided they didn’t like the direction the project manager was going with a task or the whole project, it would be relatively easy for them to sandbag, work slowly or steer the project discretely. Even if the team were trying to work in good faith with the outside project management, they could have a tough time with technical terms or translating project requirements to execution.

    On the other hand, I do support the concept that the project manager does not really have to be an expert in a given field to be successful in managing projects. Consultants do this day in and out, where they don’t necessarily know an industry or the specific technical details, but they are very successful managing projects. In other words, the competence truly is in project management, with specific business expertise being secondary. I believe trust in project leadership can be formed solely based on that skillset.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *