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Project Management Competencies

November 20, 2013 by Dr. Jon Warner in Projects / Meetings

Project Management Competencies

Although there are people with the formal title of project manager, who are in charge of large-scale projects like building roads and bridges and significant buildings and equipment perhaps, in fact most leaders will manage small and large projects as a routine part of their role these days. However, they may not be given any specific training to carry out the project management role and may not know exactly what competencies are required. In an attempt to remedy this possible lack of knowledge, the list below aims to provide the main competencies that are commonly needed by most project managers, whether the project is small or large and short or long:

The Core Competencies of a Project Manager

  • Be able to plan and organize and carefully set project priorities and targets.
  • Allocate his or her time efficiently; handle multiple demands and competing priorities.
  • Set realistic goals for him/herself and others; have a clear understanding of the big picture; periodically evaluating his/her own progress.
  • Use a planned approach to completing work effectively and efficiently; think ahead to accomplish as much as possible, in the time and budget allowed.
  • Demonstrate an orderly thought process; will be systematic and willing to delegate when necessary.
  • Break large projects into several smaller steps, with deadlines for each step
  • Anticipate the possibility of last-minute changes to the execution of plans and projects; Have the skill and temperament to able to readily build adjustability into plans.
  • Value efficiency and effectiveness; always be looking to improve personal organizational skills.
  • Create effective coordination mechanisms (i.e., with spreadsheets, scheduling systems, other project management tools and applications, etc.).
  • Review his/her plans regularly and makes mid-course corrections when things aren’t working correctly (reallocating resources and people as necessary).
  • Coordinate multiple and/or simultaneous events, requirements and operations to achieve smooth, efficient functioning.
  • Assess and manage risks to project costs, timing, quality or people.
  • Coordinate individuals and teams in flexible and dynamic ways as a project progresses.
  • Estimate costs of executing work and manage expenses tightly at all project steps/phases.
  • Contribute to finding solutions to short-term problems and issues as they arise and bring in the appropriate expertise to find new ways of achieving results when necessary.
  • Communicate in clear and unambiguous ways, using all available channels to a wide range of people.
  • Have the composure and energy needed to attend to a multitude of details without becoming overwhelmed or flustered.

It’s not so much that the above is intended to be an exhaustive list and more or less of any one of these skills may be required depending on the particular project. However, it is a useful list to review whenever a leader is asked to take on a project of any size and to quickly make an assessment about where he or she may already be strong or need help from others in some specific areas to help ensure overall success.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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