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Project Portfolio Management

Six Traits of Successful Project Managers

Published By Team AdaptiveWork

We all know that a project manager is the person who plans and executes a project, but what are the top traits of successful project managers? Whether your opinion has been formed by years of experience or the collective opinions of your clients and colleagues, your list likely includes a good mix of personality traits, including:

  • Competence
  • Decisiveness
  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Stability
  • Open-mindedness

What are the traits of successful project managers?

A lot of research has been done in this particular area of project management, and the general consensus is that someone who is competent, can stand behind their decisions, and has an over-arching vision for the project are among the best project managers in the field. From communication to stability, here are the top six traits of successful project managers.

  1. Competence

Perhaps the most obvious trait of a successful project manager, or pretty much anyone who is good at their job, is competency. An incompetent project manager–even if they happen to be rather friendly and the type of person you really like hanging out with—ultimately cost other people their jobs (not to mention in some cases their health and sanity, too.)

  1. Decisiveness

Great project managers know three things about decisions: how to make them, how to stand behind them and how to adjust to the context of a situation in order to make the best decision possible. They don’t make knee-jerk decisions, and they don’t wait until the last moment to make a choice. Instead, they “read” a situation and use awareness to make the best decision possible.

  1. Vision

Successful project managers have the ability to see several steps ahead. They can also anticipate the likely consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s scenarios, and proactively avoid problems before they emerge. On top of this, great project managers never lose sight of the fact that everything everyone does is always about the project — not about them. That is, the needs and requirements of the project are paramount and always the priority.

  1. Communication

Let’s face it: projects rarely come in on time, on budget and in scope. It’s just not the nature of projects to be so obedient. Great project managers have the sophisticated communication skills it takes to navigate a project through inevitably choppy waters. Sometimes that takes assertiveness. Other times it takes the ability to negotiate and persuade. Whatever it takes, great project managers have the communication skills to get their message across and keep a project from going under.

  1. Stability

As we all know, there are good days on a project…and there are bad days. Actually, most days have their fair share of both. Great project managers bring stability to projects. They’re a calm, level-headed presence in the midst of a frenzy of activity, and they can be counted on to be consistent in their principles. They don’t get too high when things are going great, and they don’t get too low when things aren’t. They’re passionate and take their work seriously, but they don’t let that interfere with their focus, or distract them from their purpose.

  1. Open-Mindedness

And of course, it goes without saying, that one of the most important traits of a successful project manager is being open-minded to new methods, software and technology. Whether it’s scoping out the right project management software or incorporating things like virtual reality into their projects, staying one step ahead of the curve is key.


Good project management is about finding someone who demonstrates the above traits of a successful project manager. Although it’s unlikely you’ll find someone with each and every one of these qualities, the above list is a good place to start. Now, it’s your turn. What makes a project manager great in your world? Let us know below.

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Written by Team AdaptiveWork