Can The Personality Traits of a Project Manager Contribute to Project Success?

From time to time we publish a guest Blog – this is a guest Blog by Michelle Symonds which is well worth a read.

Certain personality traits can contribute to the success of a project manager and other traits can hamper the effective management of a team and a project. So cultivating certain personality traits and moderating others can lead to greater success in project management.  That’s a bold statement; but take a look at the traits below and consider whether changing the way you work could have an impact for the better on the success of your projects and your long-term career in project management. Some of these might be described as “soft skills” or “touchy feely”, others as gender-specific traits, but labels aside they are important factors for all project managers to be aware of.


Talking and listening to team members informally throughout a project enables concerns and potential problems to be raised more easily by the team and for the project manager to become aware of an issue before it is reported through more formal channels.

Of course, in the wider project it is also necessary to be able to communicate authoritatively outside the team, to convince others of the business benefits of a project and to keep focus on those benefits, but being able to communicate in these different ways, depending on the situation, is an essential project management skill.


Taking the time to understand team members; to praise when praise is deserved and criticise constructively, can go a long way towards building motivated teams; and motivated teams are willing to be flexible and adapt to change so more likely to deliver a successful end product.

Other team building skills required for project success are the ability to encourage individuals to work collaboratively as a team and the ability to defuse conflict.

Being creative

The ability to combine an organised and logical approach to a project with an element of creativity will encourage innovation, which is often the determining factor between a project that meets expectations and one that exceeds them. So if you are aiming for the very best end result encourage free-thinking and creativity in a team, obviously, within some well-defined and well-communicated boundaries.

How creative are you and your project team?

How creative are you and your project team?


Scrapping the Blame Culture

Projects that have hit a problem have two possible routes – everyone pulls together to surmount the problem and moves on to a successful conclusion or pride gets in the way and different individuals or teams start to blame each other for the problem leading to certain project failure.  It is not usually the problem itself that causes the project to fail but how the problem is dealt with – the ability to accept something has gone wrong and move on is a crucial skill for a project manager but one that is not always easy to achieve.

Valuing a Challenge

Successful project managers value the challenge of the complex and demanding environments encountered in many projects. All businesses are competitive and a project manager needs to be too in order to deliver on the business expectations. So the desire and ability to use existing practices in a constructive way, change things if they are detrimental to project progress and refusing to accept defeat can bring great rewards.

Taking Calculated Risks

A natural risk taker will deal with risks more effectively and is also more likely to deliver a project that exceeds expectations by taking calculated risks. This approach can lead to projects going over budget and/or failing to meet a deadline but delivering beyond business expectations often compensates for the additional costs of the project.

Obviously, a project manager can be successful with a range of different management styles and that success can also be attributed to the right project management skills and experience but innate or cultivated personal traits can also be a major factor in that success.

If a project manager can combine being authoritative, decisive and risk inclined with the softer skills of effective communication, team-building and creativity then they might just make the perfect project manager.

Michelle Symonds

The same author has written “Do Women Make the Best Project Managers?” and its companion article “Do Men Make the Best Project Managers?



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One Response to Can The Personality Traits of a Project Manager Contribute to Project Success?

  1. Pingback: The project manager is leaving. What will we do? | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead

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