Posted by: kerrywills | September 16, 2011

What makes a good Project Manager?

I am a strong believer that being a good Project Manager is directly related to how a person thinks, works and operates. Most people can pick up the technical aspects of Project Management (e.g. creating a plan, writing a status report and looking at financials) but it is really the skills that differentiates the good ones from the rest.

Here are some examples…

  • Organization – The ability to take all project work and organize it into meaningful categories which can be tracked and reported
  • Facilitation – The ability to ask good questions to solicit information whether that be plan activities or status
  • Diligence – Staying on top of the many moving parts of a project and making sure that all activities get completed on time
  • Communications – The ability to solicit and interpret information to different stakeholders
  • Influence – Being able to persuade stakeholders to meet project commitments and make decisions
  • Approachability – Being able to speak to team members to understand status and issues

There is no shortage of materials in the marketplace on the techniques of being a project manager but very few on skills required to be successful. I did search on for “Risk Management” in books and got nearly 34,000 responses. I did the same search on “Project Management Skills” and got 360. This little test showed that there is a 1 to 100 ratio of books on skills to techniques.

This was the reason to write my book last year – in my 16 years of Project Management and Consulting experience I find that the most successful people are not the ones who can quote the PMBOK but rather the ones that have the skills listed above.

My book highlights the changing landscape of business and makes the case for needing these skills. It then dives into the specific skills required to be successful. It also supplements each chapter with a case study from a PM practitioner.



  1. If I’m not mistaken, your description of “facilitation” sounds rather like the one for “communication”. My understanding of facilitation is the ability to keep the team (and meetings) moving forward despite filibusters or conflict.

    – Steve

  2. Steve – Agree that facilitation is keeping things on track but sometimes in order to do that you need to ask questions and guide the conversation versus letting it go down the wrong direction.

  3. Do you plan to publish this book for Kindle? I may be more likely to purchase it.

    • @Doug – I wish, this is up to the publisher and I have suggested that format to them

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