Becoming A Project Manager – Key Skills

Project management has seen a surge in newly qualified individuals fresh from university ready to take on the challenges the job role brings. Despite this surge in popularity, the job role still remains relatively unknown across many industries. However, whereas previously project managers may find their way into the job 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. Degrees and project management courses are commonly becoming more and more available, meeting the demand of the many looking to become successful project managers early on in their careers.

Becoming a project manager involves many things – education, project management courses in one or more PM methodologies such as APMP, PMP or PRINCE2, determination, enthusiasm and a high level of emotional intelligence. If you’re considering become a project manager it is important to understand that there are a general set of skills involved in completing the job. 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 some 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 job 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 in their job role. 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 skillets. 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 once recognized by the project manager.

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. Preempting 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 communication 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.

Project management courses will enable you to lay the foundation for success, but it is up to you to identify and improve on certain skills in order to build on that success.