Skip to main content

Project management is transforming quickly and drastically. Advancements in technology (looking at you, AI) and the evolution of project management tools, methodologies, frameworks, and best practices contribute to a similar change in the project management skills required to deliver successful projects.

In 2024, simply having hard project management skills is not enough. You need well developed soft skills and personal and professional traits. Where you're missing these skills, it's important to upskill yourself through project management training.

This is the definitive list of essential project management skills that are “in” right now and how you can best develop them to propel you along your project management career (or launch it!).

What Are Project Management Skills?

Project management skills are the capabilities and competencies that project managers need to have (and be good at) in order to do their jobs well and ensure their projects are successful. Common project management skills include project planning, requirements gathering, and risk management.

Complete Project Management Skills List

These are the hard and soft project management skills you’ll learn about in this article so you can add them to your resume and learn how to be an (even more) awesome project manager.

Hard SkillsSoft SkillsTraits
Reading, Writing & ArithmeticOrganizationOrdered
Process ManagementTeamworkVisionary
Project InitiationPrioritizationDetail-oriented
Project PlanningResearchTeam-oriented
Project SchedulingCreativityCautiously Optimistic
DocumentationCritical ThinkingTenacious
Task ManagementCommunicationAdaptable
Project ControlLeadershipDecisive
Risk ManagementDiplomacyResponsible
PM Tool KnowledgeCoachingStrong Work Ethic
Technical Skills
Project Management skills are a heady mix of hard skills, soft skills, and traits.

We've broken down these project management skills into hard skills, soft skills, and traits.

Click on any item within the skills list to understand what it is and how to develop it. You’ll also get a deep understanding of why they matter, and I’ll cover plenty of examples of when you’ll use them along the way.

Might I add: this is also the raison d’être for DPM Membership and the DPM School. Because having practical know-how and support to implement the skill set is really important!

11 Project Management Hard Skills

The hard skills of project management are all about competence, and speak to your practical technical ability: they are the tools, techniques, and methodologies you can apply.

Hard skills can be thought of as expert knowledge on how to operate that machine or make something work technically. You can do or make something. There are straightforward steps you follow that work. If you’re new to project management, hard skills are easiest to learn.

Hard Project Management Skills List

  1. Reading, Writing & Arithmetic
  2. Process Management
  3. Project Initiation
  4. Project Planning
  5. Project Scheduling
  6. Documentation
  7. Task Management
  8. Project Control
  9. Risk Management
  10. PM Tool Knowledge
  11. Technical Skills
7 essential project manager hard skills in action: PM tool knowledge, project planning, task management, risk management, documentation development, project control, and technical skill.
Project managers require a variety of complementary hard skills.

1. Reading, Writing & Arithmetic

Any good project manager needs to be able to employ and activate quick, accurate, and clear reading, writing, and math skills.

  • Can you read a proposal and immediately comprehend the technical or legal issues present in the text?
  • Can you write a solid project brief that any team can understand and run with?
  • Can you verify budget and expense math, catching errors before they become a bigger problem?

Reading, writing and arithmetic are hard skills that are repeatedly taught to us throughout grade school and even post-secondary. However, as we become adults these skills can stagnate if you don’t push yourself to use them regularly.

How To Develop Reading, Writing & Arithmetic

  • Read often—you can read anything, just to keep your skill sharp—but I’d recommend any of these books for project managers. Even just 30 minutes of reading per day goes a long way to keeping that part of your brain exercised.
  • Hone your writing. Invest in a program like Grammarly, which gives you customized feedback on your tone along with typical corrections for spelling, grammar, and wordiness. You can also check out these 5 tips for better writing.
  • Practice basic arithmetic with apps like BBC Teach or Khan Academy. Nobody expects you to memorize advanced trigonometry equations, but it’s useful to know basic addition and subtraction and be able to puzzle out harder multiplication and division problems.

Return to the list of project management skills.

2. Process Management

Process management is the ability to map vital and control processes within a project ecosystem.

What are your most vital company and project management processes? For many, business processes include the likes of:

  • Resourcing
  • Invoicing
  • Project launch
  • Project delivery
  • Budgeting
  • Reviews, reporting, and evaluations

Process management, then, is a way to catalog all of these processes, get a birds-eye-view of it all, and circulate knowledge about each item as needed. By its very nature, process management requires the balancing of a lot of spinning plates. Excelling in process management is a surefire way to stand out as a project manager, but it can be quite a daunting task.

How To Develop Process Management Skills

Return to the list of project management skills.

3. Project Initiation

Project initiation involves ensuring everyone's aligned on vision and approach, and it’s critical to starting projects effectively.

Before there can be a project, someone has to take the first step—be that a pitch, a formal project initiation document, a plan, a kickoff, a discovery session, or even simply being curious enough to notice an area of the business that could use some improvement.

As a project manager, initiating a project will often fall to you. It is to your benefit to learn how to instigate them and how to get them started on the right foot.

There are multiple sub-skills involved in initiating projects:

  • Getting buy-in and alignment from the team and all stakeholders
  • Setting up the project tools and documents
  • Gathering or assigning the right resources
  • Communicating a project vision to the right people

How To Develop Project Initiation Skills

Return to the list of project management skills.

4. Project Planning

Project planning involves setting a course through the project that meets its objectives and adheres to its constraints. It spans both the meta and the micro. 

There’s the large scale obvious planning we need to create things like meeting plans, statements of work, project estimates, timelines, resource plans, and briefs. There’s also the more mundane: planning out your day, who you’re going to talk to first, and how you are going to make time to keep your status documents up to date. 

The extent to which you’re able to effectively plan will directly impact the project’s ability to be successful. No matter how good you are at executing, without a proper project plan, the project won’t succeed. Remember that you need to plan for both success and disaster, and that there’s always an element of trial-and-error when it comes to planning. Never be afraid to fail and learn.

How To Develop Project Planning Skills

  • There is no one single way to do planning. Diversify your learning by consuming different materials and seeing what different experts have to say.
  • To accompany the guide, there are templates and filled-in project plan samples available in DPM Membership.
Project Timeline sample screenshot
Here's what our project plan template looks like.

Return to the list of project management skills.

5. Scheduling

Project scheduling is the ability to sequence the right people on your project at the right time.

This means building out a calendar that indicates who is doing what, and when. This could be a work breakdown structure in Excel, a Gantt chart in your project scheduling tool of choice, a dedicated project management calendar, or any other form of project schedule.

Project managers are responsible for determining project milestones, indicating when things need to be done, and what tasks are dependent on others, as well as who is representing your team at different hours, on different days, across different tasks and deliverables. You’ll need to account for all roles, tasks, and responsibilities when dividing up work amongst the project team.

Honing this skill will help you avoid common scheduling pitfalls, like last-minute adjustments, staff confusion, “clopen” shifts, and out-of-hand overtime/on-call practices.

How To Develop Scheduling Skills

  • One of the best things you can do to learn the skill of project scheduling is to study your preferred project management methodology (whether it's waterfall or agile) and learn what “scheduling” means in that context.

Return to the list of project management skills.

6. Documentation Development

Project managers are often responsible for creating documentation for things like costs, timeline, scope, stakeholders, and the contract.

Documentation involves recording your process so that it can be accessed, checked, and repeated by others. For a PM, knowing HOW to do proper documentation is only half the battle—you must also know how much documentation is needed, to prevent excessive time and energy output.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development states a preference for “working software over comprehensive documentation.” What does that mean? Well, documentation is needed, but don’t go overboard. A functional product is always the top priority.

Sign up to get weekly insights, tips, and other helpful content from digital project management experts.

Sign up to get weekly insights, tips, and other helpful content from digital project management experts.

  • Hidden
  • By submitting you agree to receive occasional emails and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. Protected by reCAPTCHA; Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How To Develop Documentation Development Skills

  • Use other people’s project documents to help you save time and use best practices without having to figure everything out the hard way. There are plenty of templates, charts, agendas, checklists, and the like in DPM Membership.
  • If you’re totally new to project documentation you’ll be better off with training like The DPM School, which can help you learn when, why, and how to fill out the most important project documents.

Return to the list of project management skills.

7. Task Management

Task management involves scheduling, monitoring, and assessing project progress and quality of tasks so work flows smoothly.

Making lists, using text editors, using tools like Kanban boards, spreadsheet building, team-based approaches, and even simple pen-and-paper are all forms of task management.

Excellent task management can boost productivity, reduce errors, and keep everyone up-to-date, so it’s up to the project manager to use the best task management approach for the situation.

A lot of task management is trial-and-error. It's also having a willingness to scale to a more comprehensive solution if you are finding your current task management systems are becoming inadequate.

How To Develop Task Management Skills

  • Don’t invest too much money into learning task management. It’s a skill that is nebulous and will change day-to-day as your project needs change. Work on this skill through simple practice and enhance your knowledge with free tutorials and guides to give you deeper insights.
  • There are plenty of free resources that you can rely on to sharpen your tasking skills, including our own guide to task management here.

Return to the list of project management skills.

8. Project Control

Project control involves monitoring and managing critical aspects of the project such as cost, schedule, scope, and stakeholders.

It’s a project manager’s job to keep their project(s) from going over budget and over schedule. Almost every project will test these imposed limitations. Scope creep, unexpected bumps in the road, and other entanglements will try to push the boundaries of these time and cost constraints.

Project control involves gleaning data and analytics from your project tracking tools or project dashboard in order to predict and influence the financial and time expenditures required for a particular project.

Once limitations have been confirmed, it’s a project manager’s job to make sure things don’t run out of control on their way to completion.

Any project manager knows that no project is ever 100% complete. There is always more to do, more to build, more to finetune. Proper controls help to establish limitations around a project so that it doesn’t end up in developmental limbo.

How To Develop Project Control Skills

  • A great resource is the DPM Podcast episode, Coloring In The Project Lines, which features Maik Stettner talking about his personal experience with delivering on budget, hitting timelines, and other areas of project control.

Return to the list of project management skills

9. Risk Management

Risk management is the process of identifying, evaluating, and mitigating against project snafus.

The skill for effective risk management is really experience—it’s knowing what could go wrong and having the humility to ask for your team’s input. The earlier you identify risks, the better your chances of avoiding the risk occurrence.

Risk identification must be followed by a risk plan that outlines how you’ll address them. This involves assigning a probability, a cost, and an owner, and using mitigation strategies that are suitable for the risk and the appetite of the client for things going wrong.

Whether you do these activities in a dedicated risk management tool or in a simple spreadsheet, RAID log, or risk register, the skill to master is the ability to identify risks well before they become issues and come up with effective mitigation plans to nullify the risk of them ever becoming issues.

How To Develop Risk Management Skills

  • Rely on other people’s experiences and learn from their mistakes (and from their successes). Glean knowledge from the best-of-the-best and use their mistakes as lessons to fuel your own learning.
  • There are plenty of books on risk management, which is a safe way to hone your practical skills before testing them out in the workplace. You can start with Fundamentals of Risk Management by Paul Hopkins or Implementing Enterprise Risk Management by James Lam.

Return to the list of project management skills.

10. Project Management Tool Knowledge

General knowledge of how project management tools work is useful, but there is no “one right project management tool”—you need the skills to learn them all. 

A project manager can only do so much with their own two hands. That’s why it’s important for them to have a toolkit of software backing them up. There is a project management tool for every task, work style, team structure, and department need.

Over a quarter of survey participants from the Project Success Survey named “the use of project management tools” as a key component to project success. Software tools are not only useful for relieving an administrative workload burden, but they are a critical component to success.

How To Develop Your Skills In Using PM Tools

  • There is no one-size-fits-all to learn the intricacies of every project management tool in existence. Instead, you are going to want to hone in on: what problem you need to solve, what tool can best do that, and how to best use that tool.
  • If you want to understand the types of tools at your disposal, check out some of my favorites and get a deeper look at the project management software listed here.

Return to the list of project management skills.

11. Technical Skills

Technical skills include things like basic wireframing, copy, design, & coding, which can allow you to manage more effectively.

The number of technical skills a project manager brings to the table can elevate them from average to expert in a heartbeat. 

  • Can you wireframe a product using different techniques? 
  • Do you have basic design skills? 
  • Do you read or develop code at all?

These are some of the most valuable hard skills because they are tangible. If you know C++ or HTML5, you can easily prove it with a practical demonstration. However, these skills can also be incredibly difficult to master.

As a project manager, you will most likely be a jack-of-all-trades with a specialty in one or two items. A good practice to have is: make sure you have at least two unique and intersecting skills. That way, you stand out as a niche specialist that people who need your expertise cannot do without.

It’s up to you to decide how much guidance you need, how much of an expert you want to become, and how many technical skills you want to adopt.

How To Develop Technical Skills

Of course, technical project management skills can be learned online with:

Return to the list of project management skills.

10 Project Management Soft Skills

Soft skills (sometimes known as interpersonal skills) comprise other personal and professional skills. They’re soft because there aren't any specific steps to follow or a "correct" way to do them.

It requires intellectual engagement and personal interaction. These are harder to learn because they're developed through experience. These are also exceedingly valuable because machines and AI cannot recreate their effects.

Soft Project Management Skills List

  1. Organization
  2. Teamwork
  3. Prioritization
  4. Research
  5. Creativity
  6. Critical Thinking
  7. Communication
  8. Leadership
  9. Diplomacy
  10. Coaching
8 project management soft skills in action: leadership, communication, prioritization, organization, research, coaching, teamwork, and diplomacy.
The soft skills that project managers have directly complement the hard skills that we use every day.

1. Organization

Organization means bringing order to chaos, sorting things out, and staying on top of everything.

Whether you are mapping out resources or turning a messy project proposal into gold, organization is THE defining characteristic of a great project manager. You simply cannot be without it.

Bad organization wreaks havoc on your team’s motivation, morale, and ability to get things done. A project manager with a personal organization strategy will get more done, feel less stressed, and be an admirable leader.

Then, the hardest part: organizing your task list, team, thoughts, tools, workflow, errands, habits, and all the rest, while maintaining adaptability when the plan changes.

How To Develop Organization Skills

  • There are whole communities dedicated to different organizational strategies. Just think about how wildly popular Marie Kondo’s “tidying up” self-help strategy became, with a best-selling book and a Netflix show. Organization has become a religion at this point.

Return to the list of project management skills.

2. Teamwork

Teamwork is the ability to make team members work together and to motivate them effectively. It’s something a project manager must learn and teach simultaneously, as you must flexibly and reliably work with employees, clients, suppliers, external contracts, customers, and anyone else who shows up in your inbox each morning.

The positive impact of teamwork is supported by behavior science and psychology. Working together is proven to spark innovation, foster happiness and personal growth, prevent burnout, grow specialized skills, improve productivity, promote taking worthwhile risks, reduce feelings of stress, and boost creativity.

How To Develop Teamwork

There are two approaches I suggest to “learning” teamwork skills:

  • Theoretical knowledge about what it means to work as a team and the benefits of navigating teamwork successfully. Try seeing what cutting-edge research is being done in the areas of teamwork. My current suggestion is The Science of Teamwork.
  • Fun, in-person exercises you can do with your team to promote trust, understanding, and comfort. Try these team building activities!

Return to the list of project management skills.

3. Prioritization

Prioritization is the ability to do the right thing, at the right time.

As project managers, a huge part of our job is determining and communicating how other people will spend their time. But it’s equally important to be aware of our own time management.

Steven Covey’s quote, “The enemy of the best is good,” applies really well when it comes to the project manager’s management of time (theirs and their team’s).

The problem is that important tasks usually get trumped by urgent tasks. If needed, do an 80/20 analysis of your current tasks. So if you’ve got a limited amount of time in your day, how can you make sure you set aside time for important tasks?

Successful project managers also respect their teammates’ time, so being able to read the body language of people in the room is also critical to ensuring that you’re staying on course.

How To Develop Prioritization Skills

  • Understand where you are putting your time. If you’re not already, use a simple time-tracking tool to help you tag and analyze where you’re spending your time. Is that where your priorities are? If you’re not sure, remember this quote: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Check out Eisenhower’s prioritization matrix. His work differentiates between what tasks are urgent, important, or neither so you can determine whether to do them yourself, delegate them, or set them aside:
    • Important and Urgent (Highest priority)
    • Important but Not Urgent
    • Not Important but Urgent
    • Not important and Not Urgent (Lowest priority)

Return to the list of project management skills.

4. Research

Research is the ability to effectively investigate and understand the big picture. Effective project managers need to know ‘just enough to be dangerous’ about all the work that their teams execute. 

You need to know the platforms and systems your teams use, and the possibilities and limitations of those so that you can have intelligent and informed conversations with clients, team, project stakeholders, and suppliers.

It’s worth trying to develop expertise across the full project life cycle: strategy, service design, product design, creative concept, user experience, design, content development, front end development, back end development, QA, hosting, content delivery networks, SEO, analytics, CMS, social media, or media (yes even banner ads).

How To Develop Research Skills

  • You can always trust libraries, particularly post-secondary libraries, as being a great source for research practices. For example, read the 15 Steps to Good Research by the Georgetown University Library.

Return to the list of project management skills.

5. Creativity

Creativity involves the ability to see things differently and approach things uniquely.

Creativity is one skill that computers and AI cannot match. Machines might be able to build, entertain, and perform but there is nothing that channels creativity the way humankind does. This makes it an invaluable skill.

How To Develop Creativity

  • There are plenty of ways to boost your creativity, like changing up a habit, spending time outdoors, indulging in a hobby, experimenting with art supplies, or listening to (or creating) music.
  • I would also highly recommend you check out the TEDxDirigo presentation by John Paul Caponigro called “You’re A Lot More Creative Than You Think You Are.” Caponigro is a renowned fine artist who has worked for Photoshop User, Apple.com, and The Huffington Post.
  • Read more about how you can get involved in creative strategy here.

Return to the list of project management skills.

6. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking allows you to decide what to do when there’s no obvious choice and tackle problems with confidence.   

You’ve most likely heard of the term “critical thinking” but can you describe it? Do you know what it is and how to access the parts of your brain that excel in it? According to the Oxford Dictionary, critical thinking is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.”

Oftentimes, project managers are confronted with conflicting data, mismatched ideas and facts, and flaws in common reasoning. Being able to pick apart what we see, think, hear, and feel to decide what is best for the current situation at hand is the linchpin in what it means to be a critical thinker.

There are 7 critical thinking skills, which I’ve broken down into their most basic essence:

  1. Analysis: What information is present?
  2. Interpretation: What does the information suggest?
  3. Inference: What conclusion can be drawn?
  4. Explanation: An elevator pitch for the above.
  5. Self-regulation: Could I be wrong about something?
  6. Open-mindedness: What are other possibilities?
  7. Problem-solving: What is the next move?

How To Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Return to the list of project management skills.

7. Communication

Communication is the ability to understand and be understood by people from varying backgrounds.

One of the essential skills for project management is the ability to communicate well—understanding and being understood.

The key communication skill to master is the ability to listen, to be clear, and to ensure you’re understood. When information flows with the right messaging, at the right time, to the right person, through the right channel, almost any hurdle can be overcome.

However, effective communication doesn’t just happen. It starts by putting in the time and effort required to get to know your team well and devising an appropriate communication plan and related communications tools that connect with the different personality types. It’s easy to communicate well under ideal conditions with perfect communicators—but projects rarely benefit from ideal conditions, and no one is a perfect communicator.

You’ll likely need to adapt the communications strategy from project to project, for the simple reason that you may have different team members for each project and a particular communication system or structure may not always work for everyone.

How To Develop Communication Skills

  • I’ve focused on teaching the skills of communication in many contexts, whether it’s in troubleshooting client complaints to solve conflicts (get practice for that in The DPM School) or handling difficult conversations better (DPM Member webinar).
  • But beyond these dedicated communication-strengthening activities, I have to say: just put yourself out there. Go to events, meet new people, leave your comfort zone, and network enthusiastically. Every conversation you have is going to teach you something about effective communication.

Watch our video covering tips on improving your communication skills here:

Return to the list of project management skills.

8. Leadership

Leadership involves seeing what could be, seeing the big picture, and leading and inspiring others.

Great leadership is an essential skill for being a good project manager. Our leadership role means we lead and manage teams—setting the vision, motivating the team, and making your team’s life better by coaching them and inspiring others.

But being a leader isn’t just about creating a feel-good vibe for our teams—we have to enforce process and keep everyone on the team in line too.

We know that we have the final call about what our team works on next, as well as the final responsibility for whether the project fails or succeeds.

Make sure you’re leading, rather than just managing. That means providing a vision and roadmap for success, and serving and empowering your team to get there.

How To Develop Leadership Skills

  • Leadership is one of those things that takes time, experience, and consistent effort. No book or course is going to turn you into a leader overnight. No online course can hand you true leadership qualifications.
  • To get started, I suggest looking for leadership-oriented seminars by speakers that you feel have something worthwhile to say. There are whole conferences dedicated to developing leadership skills, and that’s a good place to start.

Return to the list of project management skills.

9. Diplomacy

Diplomacy is the ability to influence, negotiate, and collaborate in tricky situations.

Project management is somewhat like politics; it brings together a disparate group of people, often with competing interests, and our job is to get these different interests on the same page so that we can accomplish project goals. In other words, a good project manager must be an excellent negotiator.

Discussions about budgets, resource allocation, and timelines can become adversarial and counterproductive if not handled tactfully. The best project managers know how to find compromises where possible and how to hold a firm line without damaging their workplace relationships.

The key negotiation skill to master is finding that middle ground—working out compromises so everyone that matters feel like they’ve won!

How To Develop Diplomacy Skills

  • There are plenty of books on diplomacy, some more theoretical and others more practical. You can start with a classic, The Power of Tact by Peter Legge. This book goes over how to keep your cool in tough situations, conflict resolution strategies, negotiation tactics, and being a positive influence on those around you.
  • You should also check out Public Diplomacy by Nicholas J. Cull, which goes over five core areas of public diplomacy: listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy, exchanges, and international broadcasting. This book focuses its advice through a lens of international relations, communication studies, psychology, and contemporary practice and highlights what this all means in a time of “Global Engagement in the Digital Age.”

Return to the list of project management skills.

10. Coaching

Coaching is the ability to simplify and complexity, and to build, drive, and encourage the team

Every PM is a coach in the way that they must bring out the best in their team and their product. Coaching is an inverted form of teaching where the goal is to help the subject learn rather than convey information.

Coaching is meant to focus on a person’s individual needs and talents, drawing out their full potential. This may involve offering positive feedback, establishing positive expectations, identifying room to grow, listening to concerns, and allowing (even encouraging) mistakes.

How To Develop Coaching Skills

  • Try being coached yourself. Work with a mentor or professional life/career coach and take note of what they do and how they do it. Pay special attention to what works well and what falls flat.
  • TheCoachingToolsCompany.com has a series of free tools that you can access, including exercises, common questions, a newsletter, and templates for goal setting and the like.
  • You could also consider looking up career coaches in your city and bringing one of them into your workplace for an all-day coaching session with your staff. You can also follow professional coaches online if they have a blog, videos, or podcasts.

Return to the list of project management skills.

Is Project Management A Soft or Hard Skill?

Project management is both a soft skill and hard skill. It's difficult to manage a project without both kinds of skills because they are so complementary to one another.

Trying to use project management hard skills without accompanying soft project management skills like team leadership will be largely ineffective. You might be able to create a great project plan, but the project is doomed if you aren’t able to effectively organize and lead the team to execute on the plan.

Similarly, trying to use soft skills without the hard skills required to properly plan and control the project will also lead to failure. Hard, technical skills allow you to ensure project stakeholders are aligned on the objectives and outputs, and that the plan to deliver them is feasible within the budget and timeline.

6 Traits of Successful Project Managers

The above list of key project management skills misses out on a crucial part of being a PM: personal and professional traits. Traits are the foundation for soft skills and the way you execute the hard skills.

In fact, when I’m hiring for project management roles, what I’m actually primarily trying to establish is the candidate’s character traits. These are hard—if not impossible—to teach, but in my experience, they really do set good PMs apart from the bad.

How many of these traits do you embody and practice on a daily basis?

  • Ordered: your sock drawer, and everyone else’s
  • Visionary: see what could be, potential and opportunity
  • Detail-oriented: spot the gaps and mistakes
  • Team-oriented: empathetic, enjoy working and communicating with people
  • Cautiously optimistic: always careful, but positive about it
  • Tenacious: keep going when things don’t go to plan
  • Adaptable: love problem solving and can be flexible
  • Decisive: ability to assess, anticipate, and make difficult decisions
  • Responsible: take ownership, look after, and take the weight off the team
  • Strong work ethic: hard-working, hustler, self-motivated, and on time

Return to the list of project management skills.

How To Build These Successful Project Manager Traits

  • Be honest with yourself: Ask for feedback from your colleagues and be open and accepting about what they share. Learn how to gently and productively critique yourself and remember that it’s never about fault, it’s about a desire to constantly improve.
  • Be humble: Humility is the beginning of wisdom. In order to build your character, you must be open to new ways. No one can ever be too humble, though those who aren't are sure to think so.
  • Live out your principles and values: Whether it’s “love others,” or ”do the right thing,” living by your principles will make decision-making easier and your character more steadfast.
  • Be intentional: Integrity does not happen by accident. We are all products of our thoughts and habits. Be intentional about filling your mind with good thoughts. Creating a habit of this internalizes principles and breeds high character.
  • Practice self-discipline: Being of high character takes the ability to do what is right over what is easy. After all, as John Wooden says, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
  • Be accountable: Surround yourself with people who have high expectations. Be responsible for yourself first. Lose the pride. Open yourself up to accountability. Let others push you to a high character.

6 Key Agile Project Management Skills

Agile project management requires all of the above, as well as a few unique items I wanted to call attention to which are particularly important to methodologies that fall under the agile umbrella, such as Scrum or Kanban.

Here are a few additional traits you can count on a good agile PM to have mastered:

1. Facilitation

Help people understand common objectives and their part in the bigger picture. Effective facilitators are able to make overarching goals feel understandable and achievable.

Learn more on how to do this in our workshop with Annie MacLeod (you'll need to be a member to access this workshop).

2. Problem-solving

The ability to navigate conflict, errors, and unexpected roadblocks with poise and purpose. If something unexpected arises, you keep your cool and set a good example for others.

3. Issue resolution or escalation

Knowing when it is appropriate to internally resolve issues and when intervention is needed. It’s important to grasp what resources are available for when escalation is deemed necessary.

4. Team building

Understanding the social intricacies of team management and properly providing guidance and encouragement. Make sure your team works well together, trusts one another, and feels satisfied as a unit.

5. Change management

Making natural and inevitable change within a business as easy, inclusive, and transparent as possible. No change, no matter how great, should disrupt your team to the extent they go into disarray.

6. Create the right environment

Know your “workplace culture” and make sure it aligns with your vision for the team and their work. Don’t let it become too strict or too casual and make sure everyone understands their freedoms and limitations.

How To Develop Your Project Management Skills Further

It might be getting more difficult to get a job as a PM, and just knowing what skills project management professionals need is not enough.

We must be knowledgeable and have the right tools; but critically, we must know how to apply the right techniques to our projects. Knowing theory without the skills to apply it is useless. Having the right tools without the practical skills to put them to good use is meaningless.

So, how should you go about improving your project management skills?

  1. Create a personal shortlist of skills you're missing. Include the technical skills you’d like to learn, as well as the soft skills and traits where you could develop further.
  2. Use your list to guide the development of your project management competencies.
  3. Take the DPM School course, Mastering Digital Project Management, to develop the hard and soft skills you need to succeed—the instinct, judgment, and leadership skills needed to deliver complex projects that revolve around people, pixels, and code.
  4. Join the vibrant DPM community where you'll discover even more ways to deepen and enhance your project management skills.
Ben Aston
By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedpm.com. I've been in the industry for more than 20 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony. I'm a Certified Scrum Master, PRINCE2 Practitioner and productivity nut!