101 Characteristics Of A Project Manager

Paul Naybour

A 2011 paper by Bakhsheshi & Nejad “Impact of Project Managers’ Personalities on Project Success in Four Types of Project” compiled a list of the personal characteristics required in a project manager based on other research. The list amounts to 101 traits!

I can’t imagine any project manager could exist with all of these traits – what do you think?

Personal Characteristics:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Adaptability
  3. Initiative
  4. Leadership
  5. Aggressiveness
  6. Confidence
  7. Persuasiveness
  8. Verbal Fluency
  9. Ambition
  10. Activity
  11. Forcefulness
  12. Effective Communicator and Integrator
  13. Broad Scope Of Personal Interests
  14. Poise
  15. Enthusiasm
  16. Imagination
  17. Spontaneity
  18. Balance Technical Solutions With Time, Cost, and Human Factors
  19. Well Organized
  20. Disciplined
  21. A Generalist Rather Than A Specialist
  22. Able and Willing To Devote Time To Planning And Controlling
  23. Able To Identify Problems
  24. Willing To Make Decisions
  25. Able To Maintain Proper Balance in the Use Of Time
  26. Multidisciplinary Oriented
  27. Global Problem Oriented
  28. Effective Decision Maker
  29. Problem Solver
  30. Have Management Knowledge
  31. Have Analytical Ability
  32. Creative
  33. Impressive Communicator
  34. Motivator
  35. Flexible
  36. Proper Temperament Such As Calm, Realistic, Quick Thinking
  37. Drive
  38. Ambition
  39. The Desire To Lead and Influence Others
  40. Honesty
  41. Integrity
  42. Self-Confidence
  43. Intelligence
  44. Technical Knowledge
  45. Problem-Solving Ability
  46. Results Orientation
  47. Energy
  48. Initiative
  49. Self-Confidence
  50. Perspective
  51. Communication Ability
  52. Negotiation Ability
  53. Having Vision and Clear Picture About Future
  54. Goal Directed
  55. Clear Purpose For Going Ahead and Achieving Goals
  56. Self-Control
  57. Self-Discipline
  58. Aptitude For Communication
  59. Energy
  60. Persistence
  61. Positive Attitude
  62. Aptitude for Dealing With Problems
  63. Risk Evaluations
  64. Honesty
  65. Integrity
  66. Understanding Project Team Problems
  67. Having Knowledge About Project Technology
  68. Business Management Competence
  69. Understands Management Principals
  70. Alertness
  71. Quickness
  72. Versatility
  73. Energy
  74. Toughness
  75. Decision Making Ability
  76. Self-Awareness
  77. Self-Management
  78. Social-Awareness
  79. Relationship Management Skills
  80. Honest
  81. Competent
  82. Forward Looking
  83. Inspiring
  84. Intelligent
  85. Fairness
  86. Open Minded
  87. Courageous
  88. Straight forward
  89. Imaginative
  90. Ambition
  91. Drive
  92. Tenacity
  93. Self-Confidence
  94. Psychological Openness
  95. Realism
  96. Appetite For Learning
  97. Loyalty
  98. Ethical
  99. Self-Awareness
  100. Inventive
  101. Firmness

2 thoughts on “101 Characteristics Of A Project Manager”

  1. Hi Michelle

    ‘(5) Aggressiveness’
    I once read a novel called ‘Shibumi’ which is a Japanese word meaning ‘authority without domination’. I like that. Aggressiveness is usually counterproductive with fallout from resentment following. It is not a characteristic compatible with true leadership, and not the same as ‘assertiveness’ which of course is necessary and appropriate on occasion, though notable by its absence from this list.

    ‘(38) (AND (90)??) Ambition’ and ‘(39) The Desire to Lead and Influence Others’.
    It is paradoxical but in great leaders ((4) Leadership) these characteristics are notable by their absence; they almost find themselves thrust forward by others rather than dominating by aggression. The culture and climate of fear the latter precipitates is, I imagine, something we aspire to move beyond. Also 38 and 39 both lead to corruption; that famed corollary of power because, just as we see with politicians, the desire for, and retention of it compromises individual integrity.
    I would add that I see as quite different to 38 and 39 the desire to ‘make a difference’: here the self is secondary: the ‘end’ is not self aggrandisement, or personal power, but realising the objective.

    ‘(1) Flexibility’ and ‘(35) Flexible'(??) What is the difference I wonder?

    Years ago there was a much feted TV play called ‘Abigail’s Party’ in which neighbours got together and the personalities emerged through conversation. Angela; a nurse, seems meek and retiring throughout until Laurence suffers a heart attack. Suddenly, ‘out of nowhere’ it feels, Angela emerges into her own. The transformation in herself and the reactions of all around her in stark contrast to their ‘dismissal’ of her before, is remarkable. My point is that I suspect that most functional humans exhibit most of the above (technical i.e. 67,68 & 69, excepted) characteristics at one time or another as elicited by some combination of disposition and circumstance. For this reason I am not sure that such lists (a bit like some job descriptions) are not a rather simplistic approach to ‘quantifying’ what constitutes a good Project Manager which might be more fruitfully assessed ‘qualitatively’?

  2. These characteristics come from various other pieces of research compiled by B & N in 2011 but dating back to 1976 – around the time of Abigail’s Party, in fact – so there are some duplicates but I have just reproduced the list here.

    I agree “Aggressiveness” is not a characteristics that we would promote in the 21st century and, in fact, this trait comes from a 1976 paper by Archibald so I’m sure the thinking was very different then.

    I remember attending a course at the start of my career called “Assertiveness Training for Women” where we were taught the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness and the disadvantages and advantages of both (respectively, obviously).

    I actually find the list quite amusing as it’s an almost unattainable target for anyone to achieve – we are only human after all.

    Maybe we should compile a new list but it wouldn’t be based on any concrete research…

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