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The 7 Traits of a Great Project Manager

What do you call someone with the resourcefulness of MacGyver, the multi-tasking ability of a juggler and the determination of a linebacker? A project manager, of course.

Project managers have a lot to contend with. In project management circles, it’s often said that you don’t just need a Plan A and a Plan B – you also need a Plan C through Z. That’s because despite a constant onslaught of changes and challenges, it’s the project manager’s job to bring each project to a successful conclusion.

So what are the qualities that a great project manager must possess for success? We surveyed our crew of experienced project managers to get the scoop:

  1. Communication. Marketing projects often involve dozens of team members on both the agency and client side, plus a variety of internal and external vendor partners. Many of these team members come from dramatically different backgrounds, and their marketing knowledge varies widely. It’s the project manager’s job to ensure everyone is on the same page throughout the project.
  2. Adaptability. A good project manager will bend but not break. The only given in a project is change and it’s the project manager’s job to address the challenge while keeping the project on track.
  3. Expertise. It’s not enough for a project manager to have project management training or knowledge; a project manager must be an expert in the type of project s/he is overseeing. When it comes to marketing projects, a successful project manager will have a long track record of success within the field of marketing.
  4. Organization. While many project managers are organized by nature, the best know that relying on a knack for order won’t keep several projects at a time on schedule. That’s why they use organizational tools, worksheets and detailed checklists to ensure they’re crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s every step of the way.
  5. Leadership. Natural leadership skills ooze from the pores of top project managers. These folks don’t need to command or demand compliance, their common-sense communication style, aura of competence and friendly natures earn them the cooperation of their teams.
  6. Mediation. Listening is an essential skill for any good project manager. With all the personalities and pressures involved in a marketing project, tensions are sure to rise from time to time. The project manager’s job is to listen empathetically to both parties, working out a solution and keeping everyone moving forward.
  7. Foresight. On occasion, you may wonder if your project manager has a crystal ball stashed in his/her office. Excellent project managers have the ability to anticipate obstacles down the road and then take action to avoid them – meaning some problems are prevented before they even occur.

Now that you’ve learned the seven essential traits of a great project manager, you know what to look for when you’re choosing a leader for your next marketing project. In addition, having a clearer understanding of the challenges a project manager faces will allow you to help your project manager do his/her job better – resulting in even greater marketing success for your organization.

Kathy Mays

Kathy Mays is Director of Account Services at Infinity Direct. Tell this Packer backer how much you love the Vikings via email at
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