How to Be a Successful Project Manager: Skills and Qualifications

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 December 2022

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Successful project managers have a host of qualities that allow them to effectively lead teams and execute efficient project management. Project managers are able to galvanise a team whilst leading a project and ensuring that the team meets deadlines and key milestones. Understanding how project managers successfully carry out their responsibilities and manage multiple tasks per day can help you make more informed career choices and become a successful project manager in the future. In this article, we discuss what a successful project manager is, with the skills, qualifications and frequently asked questions concerning a project manager included.

What is a successful project manager?

A successful project manager is able to effectively see through a project from its planning stages to its final phase. Project managers ensure that a project meets specifications and has the desired effect on their company and a client's business development. A successful project manager may keep track of budgets, timelines and workloads to ensure that deadlines are met. Successful managers ensure that a project's process is a positive and useful experience for their team, allowing them to acquire vital skills for their own career progression.

Related: What Does a Project Manager Do? (With Job Descriptions)

How to become a project manager

Pathways for project managers vary depending on the sector. For example, to qualify for a managerial role, an engineering project manager may require an undergraduate degree, a postgraduate degree with a speciality in engineering and an extensive amount of experience. Professional certifications and degrees in business or a diploma might help with providing background knowledge on project management. Successful project managers can work their way up to a managerial role after gaining vital skills through junior positions. Below is an example step-guide to becoming a successful project manager starting in an entry-level position:

1. Gain education and certifications

A degree or diploma in business studies, finance, marketing or another related topic may provide you with vital background knowledge on business structures, project management, budgeting and business development. In-depth expert knowledge of these topics could provide you with a competitive advantage and help you develop effective project management strategies based on theory. A certification in project management may also help you further show expertise. A certification can show an employer that you possess up-to-date knowledge that could help the business develop.

2. Start as a junior project team member

Once qualified, you may wish to take on an entry-level position as a junior project team member. Depending on the industry, responsibilities in this role can vary. You may track progress on certain tasks and work under the supervision of more senior project coordinators. Junior project team members can gain vital skills through observing leadership and project strategy that might benefit them as a future project manager.

3. Move into a project administrator role

Project administrators undertake most of the administrative tasks for a project such as data entry and report preparation. This vital role can help team members stay on top of deadlines and keep track of their time and workload. Administrators may take on a secondary role next to a manager by helping them analyse customer satisfaction reports and liaise with other departments on their behalf.

4. Enter a project manager position

A project manager primarily focuses on executing their project strategy for a quality product. Focusing on the company's project strategy allows the project manager to reach key development milestones and potentially increase revenue for the business. Project managers can be vital to a business and often perform a major role in bringing in new customers.

Read more:

  • How to Become a Project Manager (Including FAQs)

  • How to Become a Digital Project Manager (Plus Common Skills)

Skills of a successful project manager

Successful project managers require a unique set of skills that allow them to effectively manage multiple people and workloads simultaneously. Generic project management skills may help candidates progress faster into more senior roles by showcasing a sound understanding of vital management qualities. Below are some of the most crucial soft skills of a project manager:

1. Communication skills

When managing a large team, communication is vital for maintaining transparency. Communication is necessary for understanding any problems or potential conflicts, whilst also celebrating victories and major achievements. Communication between a project manager and client or customer can be important for establishing expectations and deadlines. Good communication can promote healthier working relationships, productivity and helps to navigate feedback in a positive manner.

2. Problem-solving skills

Project managers may face challenges during a project, be that involving team members not meeting deadlines or a change of plan during a phase. Regardless of the problem, a successful manager is able to navigate the issue with efficiency and can devise an effective solution for their team. Successful managers may take deadlines and milestones into consideration when problem-solving and work with the wider team to establish better practices to ensure that they take preventative measures in the future.

3. Leadership skills

Good leadership skills can be vital for successfully managing a team during a project. Effective leadership skills could help to motivate your team, whilst maintaining healthy working relationships. Good examples of leadership skills include:

  • empathy

  • effective delegation

  • integrity

  • transparency

  • good judgement

  • analytical

  • motivational

4. Positivity

Maintaining a positive attitude during a project may be an important asset to success. Team members might be more likely to be productive and motivated if their leader is enthused about the project and its purposes. Positive attitudes can help managers and staff see through challenges and meet tight deadlines without feeling overworked or burnt out.

5. Collaborative mindset

Project management is collaborative and requires many people to meet deadlines and reach key milestones. A collaborative mindset could allow the manager to inspire their team to work as a unit for a collective goal. The ability to unite a team is a cross-divisional value that may provide you with a competitive edge when seeking more senior roles.

6. Honesty

Good project managers often remain honest with their team about project progress, deadlines and client feedback. This transparency can be vital for good communication. Managers who are honest may earn their team's trust, leading to increased productivity, motivation and respect. Team members may feel more comfortable communicating concerns or questions with a manager who maintains honesty in a project process.

7. Integrity

A good project manager is loyal to their team and upholds morale and ethics during a project process. This means that managers might stand up for their team and praise their accomplishments to the wider business. This quality can also ensure that managers uphold company morals and ethics throughout a project.

8. Organisation skills

Project managers may juggle multiple projects at one time, with different goals, deadlines and stakeholders. This requires close attention to detail and good tracking of project progress to ensure that each project receives appropriate attention. Project managers might also keep track of their team members' workloads, which, depending on the size, can be at multiple different stages.

Related:

  • Certifications for Project Managers: 15 Qualifications

  • What Is Project Sponsorship and How Does It Work?

Frequently asked questions

Below are some of the most common questions regarding a career as a successful project manager:

1. What are the major tasks of a project manager?

Project managers have many responsibilities in a single day. From leading teams, tracking deadlines and ensuring that teams complete tasks to high quality, project managers can handle the overall management and execution of a high-quality product. Below are some of the possible daily responsibilities of a project manager:

  • coordinate with their team to meet phase deadlines

  • produce reports on project progress to update stakeholders and involved parties

  • liaise across departments to ensure that project teams have suitable support

  • get customer feedback

  • practise effective problem solving to ensure consistent productivity

  • have face-to-face or virtual meets with clients and customers

  • create daily goals

  • devise budgets

  • track time management

  • take on any tasks that the team can't take on

2. What is a project manager's salary?

The national average salary for a project manager in Australia is $120,966 per year. Salaries may vary depending on education level, experience and location. Project managers work across multiple sectors, from engineering to marketing, so salaries can vary dramatically depending on which sector a project manager works in. Project management can be a fulfilling career that may make candidates a comfortable living, whilst providing businesses with a vital service.

3. Do project managers require a degree?

Project managers may require a degree in business studies or a professional certificate in project management from the International Association of Project Managers. Formal qualifications act as an extra testimony to a successful project manager's expertise. Although, project managers may work their way up to a managerial role by starting in an entry-level position. This may occur when a candidate helps with a project under the supervision of project managers and gains valuable skills and experience, helping them qualify for more senior roles.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Related:

  • How to Start Project Planning: With Project Stages

  • Project Director vs. Project Manager: Key Differences

  • What Does an ICT Project Manager Do? (And How to Become One)

  • How to Write an IT Project Manager Resume (With Example)


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