Currently working on my PMP certification, I was wondering what must be the right characteristics that will define a real project manager, i will define this characteristics:

Leadership, command authority. Quick sifting abilities. re-evaluate project priorities frequently. Keep excellent communication with stakeholders. Excellent expertise in project management.

I know this is not an easy question to answer, but i´d like to know more about the experts!

  • 3
    Do these 2 earlier posts answer your question? What is the breakdown of personal skills that a PM is required to have in order to effectively do his job? and Which skill set is necessary for a project manager? I see this post as duplicate, however I'll let the larger community decide on that. Oct 2, 2015 at 11:25
  • 1
    Thanks to frameworks like Scrum we can add some more great qualities to this list: "surplus to requirements, wood chipper fodder, oxygen to C02 converters, chair warmers" etc
    – Nathan
    Oct 2, 2015 at 14:13
  • @Nathan LOL. But honestly, the PM skill set is still valuable in Agile environments as well. It's just that the majority of the PM skill set gets spread between the team, PO and Scrum Master roles. Are you a PM that cares deeply about what the project delivers...PO could be a good fit for you. Do yo care about how teams work? SM fits that focus. Agile recognizes that having an individual looking at both the HOW/WHAT can often not be in the best interests of the team or customer.
    – WBW
    Oct 2, 2015 at 18:54
  • Honestly, being knowledgeable about the chosen project management framework and having good communication skills are probably the only constants. Anything else is situational at best.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Oct 3, 2015 at 15:14
  • Welcome to PMSE, @Elenasys. Although your question has been put on hold, you could edit it further and it may be reopened. The site typically values posts that allow for canonical answers. Opinion polls or open-ended questions where almost any answer can be correct are generally not a good fit, but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the interesting questions--they just aren't a good fit for a Q&A format.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Oct 3, 2015 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


This is not an easy question to answer. The answer varies from company to company, from culture to culture. So collected some existing qualities that I can resonate with.

I have found this list on u99:

  • Command authority naturally
  • Possess quick sifting abilities, knowing what to note and what to ignore
  • Set, observe, and re-evaluate project priorities frequently
  • Ask good questions and listen to stakeholders
  • Do not use information as a weapon or a means of control
  • Adhere to predictable communication schedules
  • Possess domain expertise in project management as applied to a particular field
  • Exercise independent and fair consensus-building skills when conflict arises
  • Cultivate and rely on extensive informal networks inside and outside the firm to solve problems that arise
  • Look forward to going to work

Here is another list from linkedin:

  • Good communicator
  • Effective leadership skills
  • Good decision maker
  • Set clear vision
  • Sound technical knowledge
  • Good at team-building
  • Thrive under pressure
  • Good negotiation skills
  • Empathetic
  • Enthusiastic

I would add that they improve themselves, and want their team members do the same without being asked.

  • Some of these sound like a skill or an ability. I think that differs from a characteristic, which is a distinguishable trait or attribute. Oct 2, 2015 at 10:27
  • I was hoping that you would jump in ;-)
    – Zsolt
    Oct 2, 2015 at 10:36
  • Definitely a tough question. Oct 2, 2015 at 11:38

This is a tough one to answer. I think a lot of discussion on this topic one might find out there is not much more than hyperbole. There have been some studies on leadership, where some traits were identified such as a high degree of motivation and drive, tolerance of high stress, competitiveness, impatience, tendency to be vision oriented, and other so called type A attributes. A lot of these studies are correlation based, not necessarily cause and effect. But management is different than leadership and project management is different than management. PM touches everything and everybody, starting like at age six. Every profession, job, and trade, even those that attract type B attributes, have to perform projects and those people certainly perform projects ranging from outstanding to poorly, just like those people who are more type A. So I would guess that even less of a correlation would be found with characteristics of a good PM than what was found on those studies on leadership.

While anecdotal, I have never noticed any consistent correlation between what I have thought was good PMing and a personality trait or characteristic. I've observed contrasting strengths and weaknesses, where some hard charging type As were fantastic in some PM tasks while miserable in others and vice versa with type Bs. I do, however, think there is a selection bias and halo effect, where certain attributes are selected despite performance.

So in my most humble opinion I don't think there is an answer for this question as of now. I do not think there is a substantiated set of characteristics that would reliably predict PM success.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.