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Becoming A Project Manager – Key Skills

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 17th November 2015

Becoming a project manager is a great career choice but it is important to identify the key skills needed to succeed.

Project management has seen a surge in newly qualified individuals fresh from training courses ready to take on the challenges the job role brings. Whereas previously project managers might have found their way into the role ‘by accident’, taking on the responsibility when needed within their workplace, people are now actively pursuing the profession and the many applications it can have across many industries. Project management courses are becoming more and more readily available, meeting the demand of the many looking to become successful project managers early on in their careers and the organisation looking to develop existing talent.


If you’re considering become a project manager, or already developing your career as a PM, it is important to understand that there is a general set of skills over and above learning the standard methods and processes. Recognising these skills means recognising the areas you may or may not need to seek immediate improvement or experience in. Project management courses go a long way to providing you with tools necessary for success, but experience and natural ability (which can always be improved) account for much of what is needed to be really fantastic in this role.


To Lead & To Manage

Often people confuse the two roles as one and the same, however they are both very different and a competent project manager will switch between the two constantly. A leader is someone at the forefront of the team, who can help others see the bigger picture and help everyone share a common goal. Leaders help everyone move forward, motivate them and ‘lead the team to success’. Managers however are driven by results and are all about getting work completed.

To Build Teams And Lead Teams

When you take on the PM job role you learn to work with many different types of people, all with different abilities, personalities and skillsets. A good project manager will be able to match people together to build a ‘dream team’. They will also be able to work with teams that have been put under their leadership who may not be the ideal selection for the project, but who all have qualities that can work collaboratively.

Always Solving Problems

Nobody likes a person who constantly sees the negative in everything, who always sees problems as huge roadblocks. In project management this is especially true as projects can so often quickly change route and bring up issues and problems that need positivity and an open mind to get around them. As a project manager you have to be the king or queen of problem solving. Pre-empting problems, seeking out the root causes of them, and the effect they are having or may have. Figuring out the best approach to solving the problem also takes a particularly open mind, and some level of compromise as lots of people are involved in any single project, and all need to agree on what the best course of action actually is.


There will be lots of times throughout your PM career where you have to negotiate, with lots of different people. It might be the case of negotiating extra work with one employee, or getting a stake holder to provide more support throughout a project. There will always be a need for negotiation in your career, so it’s a skill that needs to develop quickly.


A key part of your job role will be the ability to influence others for the power of good. Being able to persuade people to do things they may not necessarily want to do. Getting them to stretch beyond their skillset, work extra hours, attend meetings or work with people they don’t necessarily get on with.