25 Essential Project Management Skills for Any Leader
The essential project management skills to accelerate the project delivery
Project management is the most tedious job for a project manager that is accompanied by numerous involving tasks including the initiation, planning, execution, control, and completion of a project.
It is an intricate balance that demands thoroughness, keenness, attention to detail, top-notch organization, not forgetting the unending need to work well under pressure!
Delegating the project to a team of your choice does not make it any easier; you are handed over a detailed list of specific goals to achieve over a stipulated timeline. All this you get to do within an already determined budget. To beat all the odds, and do all this successfully, you need to be the best manager.
Here is a power-pack list of 25 essential project management skills for you as a leader to ensure that you do not merely meet the minimum mark for your projects but thrive and leave your employer wide-eyed in awe!
1. Organizational Skills
As a leader, your primary role is to bring order to chaos, sort things out, and stay on top of everything. At any given point, you could need to map out resources or turn a mashed up project proposal into gold.
Organizational skill is the defining characteristic of a great project manager. You must have it predominantly in your project management skills set.
The lack of great organization skills will wreak havoc on your team’s motivation, morale, performance ability, and eventually their ability to get things done within the time limit.
You must be a project manager with an intricate personal organization strategy to get more done, feel less stressed, and be a remarkable leader.
As the leader of your team, you need to have the ability to understand and be understood by people from various departments and backgrounds.
Communicating well is one of the factors significantly influencing the environment in which your team works. As a leader, you need to understand the people you are leading, and you also need to be understood by them.
Effective communication is the glue holding the components of your project together.
Project management skills needed demand top-notch leadership. You are the one that sees the big picture, visualizes what could be achieved by the project, and leads and inspires his or her team to take on the challenge with confidence.
Beyond managing teams, you need to lead and make your team’s life better by coaching and inspiring them.
The sole responsibility for the success or failure of the project lies on your shoulders. This means that beyond creating a feel-good vibe for your team you have to enforce the process and keep everyone in line.
Your project management skills resume must contain the ability to make teams work, read emotions, and motivate efficiently.
The performance of your team is dependent on how much you learn about teamwork and teach it to your team members simultaneously.
You must master the art of flexibility and reliability as you work with your employees, clients, customers, external contractors, and anyone else directly or indirectly involved with your project.
You need to spark innovation and foster happiness and personal growth among the people in your team by creating a wonderful environment in which all the departments and different stakeholders work well together.
One thing is for sure, as you deal with the numerous aspects of your project uncertainties and tricky situations are bound to arise. You must be a diplomat!
You need to cultivate the ability to influence, negotiate, and collaborate with your team and resources to navigate through the stormy seas.
Project management imitates a political nature due to the fact that it often brings together a disparate group of people that in most cases have competing interests.
Your job as a project manager is to get these different interests on the same page so that you can accomplish the goals of your project.
Knowing how to negotiate well so that all the parties involved in a project are satisfied is a key skill for you as an effective project manager and leader. Being an excellent negotiator as a project manager is closely linked to your diplomacy skills and greatly enhances your performance.
Leading a project means that you are constantly negotiating. At times the stakeholders may have very high demands that can impact the scope of your project.
You needed to give them a diplomatic pushback so that all the parties involved feel their wants are considered.
The different decisions that are made on how to best complete the projects involve meetings, working sessions, and discussions. You cannot afford to have the meetings in relation to your project done poorly.
All your meetings as a project manager leading a team must be effective, focused and they should yield the desired results.
Your team members should be looking forward to the next meeting where they will get inspired, motivated, and guided on where each department is at matters the project.
So you need to put your best foot forward in facilitating these meetings and sessions. They should command prompt and timely actions that ensure the project is a success.
8. Problem Solving
It is certain that your project and team are bound to experience all sorts of problems as you go through the different stages of various projects. Since you are the leader, you do not get to sit around, worry and just complain about them.
You must lead the way by giving solutions. Problem-solving skills are therefore of great significance to your project management skillset as a leader and project manager.
Under situations of extreme pressure and uncertainties especially involving strict budgets and deadlines, you must retain your cool and inspire confidence in your team. Check out this article I wrote on maintaining composure while leading teams.
9. Change Management
Whereas flexibility is a big plus for you and your team, you as the leader must be able to manage the changes you encounter throughout the course of your project.
Appreciating that change is inevitable goes a long way in cushioning your team members from unexpected happenings.
However, it is your role to ensure that the changes you have to incorporate are as easy, inclusive, and transparent as possible.
Regardless of how big the change is, it should not disrupt the functioning of your team to the extent that they are thrown into disarray.
10. A Touch of Humor
I know this may not be anywhere on the list of your priorities when it comes to getting your projects done. Not to mean that you have to be a comedian, but there is a place and time for a sense of humour to win the day as just a soft skill in project management.
It’s all about having a different perspective that allows you to look at a problem differently. Some humour will go a long way in relieving some stress off you and your team.
Now that a hardworking environment for you and your team is not defined by stifling, smarter actions and ideas show up as humour relieves the stress.
It creates room for the amazing skill of creativity, which cannot even be doubled by computers and AI.
Creativity enhances your ability as a leader to see things differently and approach issues uniquely.
As a leader, one of your primary roles is deciding what you and your team will do and when to do it. It is an important skill when managing projects since you have to operate within strict timelines.
You must guide your staff on doing the right thing at the right time. As a project manager, you need to determine and communicate with your team members how they should spend their time to work towards achieving the project’s end goals in time.
You must also keep a close look at how you’re spending your time. Do not just settle for good use of time, you must make the most out of your time as well as that of your team.
Under situations of extreme pressure, you need not just rush through the project or allow yourself to get so frustrated and disoriented when things do not go according to plan.
As much as speed is of the essence due to time being a limiting factor, you need to establish a balance so that you do not make numerous mistakes as you go through the processes at a supersonic speed.
Since uncertainties will come, a change request or an overreacting team member not forgetting the grand expectations of your stakeholders, only patience will help you navigate through the turbulent scenarios.
14. Critical Thinking
As a project manager leading a team, you need to think. You cannot just react and follow a series of responses that occur within your project.
Critical thinking will help you remain objective as you analyze and evaluate situations and give sober judgment.
Since you will keep experiencing challenges throughout the implementation of your project, you need to be impartial, and your decision making needs to be what is best for the project.
15. Quality Management
Quality management is an essential project management skill for any leader but most often than not it gets overlooked.
You need to pay more attention to this skill because it will help you oversee the activities and tasks required to deliver a product or service that is up to the standard indicated in the project framework.
Whereas staying on schedule and within the budget is important, it is pointless to uphold the two only to produce some substandard results from your project.
One of the things that could really go wrong with a project is over budget. Mostly the test is attaining a set of desired goals within a given timeline while operating in an already set budget.
Balancing the cost versus the expenses you incur at every stage of the project is the only sure way of remaining within the budget.
You must always keep track of how much you spend against the grounds covered in relation to the overall project.
17. Project Planning
Working on projects requires you to architect a course that meets the set objectives within the constraints of a budget and timeline. To achieve proper planning, you must always consider the Meta as well as the micro factors of your processes.
In large scale planning, you need to show excellence in creating estimates, building timelines and statements of work, and conduting resource planning.
Before the numerous phases of a project are integrated into one big and beautiful project, a great deal of effective planning goes into play.
18. Project Initiation
After all is said and done about the business planning and strategy, the buck stops at the project manager’s desk. You need to start the agreed projects effectively and ensure they align with the vision and approach.
As the leader, your job starts before even there is a definite project. You need to take the first step. It could be a pitch, a formal project initiation document, or a plan.
It could even be just curiosity on an area of business that needs some improvement. You must get all your projects started on the right foot.
19. Process Management
You need to have the ability to map vital aspects and control the processes within your projects’ ecosystem. Your processes revolve around resourcing, invoicing, project launch and delivery, budgeting, reviews, reporting, and evaluations.
All of these processes are cataloged through process management, which is essential in your project management.
You need to get a bird’s eye view to capture all the different aspects and develop and circulate knowledge about each item as the need arises.
Now that there are countless aspects and people involved in your project, timing is the ultimate tool. You must have the ability to sequence the right people within your project at just the right time.
Scheduling your project means that you build out a calendar that clearly indicates who is doing what and when. You could have it as an Excel Work Breakdown Structure or any other form of a project schedule.
It is your responsibility to determine the individual milestones within your projects that indicate when things are to be done and the dependencies and interrelation of specific tasks.
Another skill that is essential in project management is developing proper documentation. Since projects involve the interrelation of different factors, people, and departments, a clear recording of the processes involved throughout the project is paramount.
A project charter for proper documenting of the cost, scope, timeline, stakeholders, and the actual contract and KPIs your project is to be measured against is a must-have road map.
It keeps you objective about the end goal while retaining a perspective of the grounds you have covered and the interaction of the budget and timeline constraints with other factors of your project.
22. Task Management
As you manage and schedule the different processes of your project, you must monitor and assess the progress attained and the quality of tasks to ensure that work flows smoothly.
Managing your tasks is the key to attaining the milestones within your project, which in turn informs the success of the entire project.
You must master the art and special skill to navigate through task management in a way that informs and offers direction to the different types of staff in your team, most of whom have different preferential learning methods.
23. Project Control
Project control is what boosts the productivity of your team, reduces errors, and keeps everyone up to date. You must be on the lookout that the cost, schedule, and scope remain within the predefined guideline.
You also need to monitor and manage the involvement of different stakeholders in your project. You need to ensure that your projects do not go over budget and over schedule.
Your level of success and effectiveness is measured against working within these two constraints.
24. Risk Management
One of the hardest jobs for any project manager is effective risk management, which is mainly obtained from experience. You need to learn the skill so that at any one point of your project, you anticipate what could go wrong.
As a leader, it is your role to identify, evaluate, and mitigate the threats that endanger your projects.
25. Conflict Resolution
As you manage different teams and their involvement in building a successful project, conflicts will mostly arise. A different team may have conflicting priorities, and they are all made of different personalities.
At times some team members or specific teams may succumb to the pressure of the project and have unrealistic expectations.
All of these need you to take a firm ground and resolve conflicts yet do so amicably that there is still a good work environment for all the involved teams.
Project management skills are a must-have for any leader.
Balancing all the equations involved in a project from time, resources, people, and effectiveness requires you to be a master of great discipline and constantly keep you and your team in check.
These amazing skills will give you a much easier time as you navigate through your projects. The more you have them, the better!