Organizations of all types and sizes value project managers (PMs) who can bring more than just management and business or information technology know-how to the table.

Regardless of whether you’re a business or IT-focused PM, here’s a look at five “soft skills” you need to remain competitive in your field.

1. Leadership

Leadership is a desirable skill for any industry or career, but is especially necessary for a project management role. “Being a leader and being a good manager is not the same thing,” says Joe Forte, project management core faculty in Capella University’s School of Business.

How to demonstrate these skills:

  • Take charge and stay focused in a crisis.
  • Be willing to listen to other team members or leaders for their ideas.
  • Give feedback to your team and encourage growth.

2. Communication

“Communication is the most important skill—when you think you have communicated, do it again, as it is most critical for a successful project,” says Forte. In order for a project to be completed accurately and efficiently, there must be good communication between the PM and everyone else involved in or affected by it. PMs must be able to effectively convey their vision, ideas, goals, and issues, and produce reports and presentations on the status of the project.

How to demonstrate these skills:

  • Present clear ideas, goals, and status updates to all project stakeholders.
  • Tailor your messages and choose communication channels suited to each audience.
  • Understand and work through any communication obstacles, such as lack of attention or misconstrued messages.

3. Team Building

Because there are various moving parts involved in a project, and many different team members are working together towards its completion, it’s critical that a PM builds a unified team. As Forte explains, “You do not always have a choice in who your team members are, but always spend the time to take a personal interest in all of them regardless.”

How to demonstrate these skills:

  • Ensure that coworkers understand and can articulate team objectives.
  • Pull the team together for relationship building exercises and activities.
  • Work with individuals and groups to resolve conflicts effectively.

4. Facilitate and Delegate

In order to get the most productivity out of a team, PMs must understand how each member provides value and delegate accordingly. “Trust your team members—they are the experts in their area,” says Forte. Not only will delegating allow you as a PM to tap into each person’s skills, you’ll also free up your own time to focus on other important elements.

How to demonstrate these skills:

  • Understand who on the team has the skills to take on specific tasks.
  • Give clear directions and deadlines.
  • Provide the necessary information and resources for the team to complete their specific tasks.

5. Organization

In order to run and maintain their company’s projects, PMs must have organizational skills. According to Forte, “Spending the time to get organized early in a project saves more time than trying to organize a disorganized project later. Know what is important to you and the stakeholders.” These skills can include planning, time management, attention to details, and more. While this organization is often considered inherent to project management, PMs do not always possess this skill.

How to demonstrate these skills:

  • Schedule a time period for specific tasks and assign to certain employees.
  • Coordinate internal and external resources for efficient processes.
  • Consistently meet deadlines and have the ability to prioritize and delegate tasks.


Learn business, technical, and soft skills in Capella’s online BS in Project Management and BS in IT Project Management degree programs.

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