As more and more people are attracted to project management as a career choice, it's important to develop the soft skills that will separate you from a sea of candidates. If you are seeking a project management position, or looking to be promoted in your current PM job, here are some hard to beat qualities that will position you as a seasoned professional.
Courage - Believe it or not, courage is something that will push you further ahead as a Project Manager. Being able to handle any project, no matter what the complexity; being able to service any client, regardless of their tough reputation - this strength of character is refreshing to an employer who needs a fail-safe Project Manager on their team. This courage can truly only come from one source, which is confidence. Believe in yourself without being arrogant and you will exude competency and bravery. This attitude will foster a higher level of trust from your employer and your colleagues.
Finesse - I've discussed this elusive quality before, and while it may be difficult to define, it is absolutely real. By finesse, I mean an ability to deal with everyone you encounter in your job. This may include a harsh client or an unmotivated resource - regardless of who you are interacting with, there is a way to develop a positive and fruitful professional relationship with each and every person. Try to understand what motivates the people you work with - appeal to their priorities and you will create an immediate connection by understanding their needs.
Reliability - As a Project Manager, your very reputation lies in your ability to be consistently reliable. Always follow through on a promise, never forget a deliverable, constantly suggest solutions and forever respond to client calls and email messages in a timely manner. A Project Manager who can be depended upon will be one who is trusted, favoured and even requested from project to project. Aside from credibility with your clients, your employer will see you as competent, responsible and even authoritative.
These attributes can be developed and improved upon by every Project Manager, regardless of rank. In a client service role, such as project management, soft skills are just as important as education and industry knowledge. Demonstrating these skills in an interview will also give you an edge over your competitors. Never lose focus on these core attributes - they will carry you through difficult times, and more importantly, they will give you prominence and memorability in the minds of employers and clients alike.