10 must-have skills to successfully project manage – with Helen Sabell

Want to successfully project manage? Here are 10 must-have skills.

Project managers are expected to bring years of industry experience to the table, with insight into the latest trends in the field. To truly succeed in this role, candidates should adopt a considered approach to decision making.

Managing a team requires a flexible, forward-looking attitude, amongst a handful of other qualities. This creativity is what will allow you to drive the next big breakthrough. Read on to discover the top attributes which define a successful project manager.

Future Focused

It’s one thing to have bright ideas, another to harness the strengths of your team to achieve fruition. An effective project manager will take a creative idea and logically segment this into stages. This will ensure that it goes without a hitch from planning through to delivery.

It’s crucial to inspire your team to share in your drive and motivation; you are only as strong as your weakest member. Looking toward the end goal, within the context of the bigger picture, is a great way to do this.


No matter how much knowledge you have gained, a successful project manager understands that there will always be more to learn. As the leader of a project, you will need to stay at the forefront of industry trends and advancements.

In the last year, technology has continued to radically grow and shift. Huge leaps in connectivity continue to create an immersive, collaborative workplace. In order to make the most of the new software and ways of thinking, project managers should be willing to adopt fresh practices and encourage the same from their team.


If you are too close to a situation, it follows that you may be unable to rationally analyse the outcome. A successful project manager will have the unique ability to separate their emotions from the equation when weighing the pros and cons of a decision. They will also know if it is time to step back.


Leading a team involves inspiring those around you to continue to improve. A project manager will know what is working and what isn’t, so they should also be able to facilitate growth through constructive feedback.

Failures can be avoided through proper adult training and consistent communication in the workplace. A successful project manager will perform assessments and determine the best way to rectify any issues moving forward.

Emotionally Intelligent

In a team dynamic, there are bound to be clashes. Individuals will have different ideas, some may begin to experience stress and others may believe their contributions aren’t appreciated. Emotional intelligence will help to unite a team.

Successful project managers will rely on their emotional intelligence to navigate difficult social situations and overcome common concerns. This will ensure that your professional group can work well together to deliver the best outcome. While this is largely an intuitive trait, managers can tackle this head on by regularly checking in with their team’s well-being.


In order for a team to truly trust each other, they must first trust their leader. Foster genuine loyalty within your team by demonstrating a sound moral compass and you will find you are supported even through more daring proposals. Lead by example to effectively encourage your team to make decisions that put the project first.


The divide between an employee and employer can be difficult to break down. As the project manager, you are part of the team and so must take special care to operate on the same level as those around you. If you adopt a rigid stance, you may get results in the short term.

However, over time you may lose the respect of your team members. An ‘us vs. them’ mentality will stand in the way of your project goals, which rely on a cohesive, communicative framework.


As a project manager, the highs and lows of the team rest on your shoulders. When you sit at the head of the team, it’s no wonder project managers are expected to know who is doing what, at what stage and for how long. Project managers should not only keep their own workflow in order but also those of the team.

Able to Negotiate

Communications skills extend to more than simply working within a team; they also involve being able to negotiate resources, timelines, budgets and more. When a task doesn’t go ahead as planned, project managers need to be able to keep a level head and negotiate with all parties to ensure the desired result.


Some traits of great leadership come naturally, others must be achieved through ongoing development, even into your later career. Adult learning can complement years of industry experience and enhance the drive to do better. Adult learning courses can teach you specific skills and offer the opportunity to upskill through collaborative workshops and conferences.


Successfully project manage with Helen Sabell guest blog postAuthor Bio

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult learning. She has developed and authored many workplace leadership programs, both in Australia and overseas.




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