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What competence is required of a project manager?

What competence is required of a project manager?

How is it possible to ensure the quality of this competence?
How should competence be defined?

The answer could be: Competence is to know what to do, have the ability to do it. It is also about being able to reflect upon what has been done and realize how it can be done even better. The latter requires experience.

With this description of competence it is possible to divide a project manager’s skill requirements into the three following main areas:
- Knowing what to do – methodological knowledge
- Ability to get things done – leadership
- Ability to learn from experience

Methodological knowledge
The project manager must have knowledge of the principles, models, processes, routines, methods, techniques, tools and resources involved in leading a project. This knowledge can be acquired in many ways; by education, by studying specialist books, by working in projects and by learning from others. Methodological knowledge is an important foundation upon which to build leadership and experience.

Good leadership is one of the most important keys to success when it comes to projects. Correspondingly, bad leadership is a common reason for problems in a project. The behaviour of the leader affects both the project and its surroundings. The behaviour is of great importance for both the relationship between co-workers within a project and for the relationship between co-workers and the surroundings. It is therefore important that the project manager is aware of his own behaviour and accommodates to each situation and surrounding of a project. By receiving feedback from others it is possible to develop a better behaviour.

You can grow and become a better project manager only if you have the ability to reflect upon and learn from your experiences, both positive and negative. But this means you have to make time for reflection! You can, for example, select a number of cases or situations and for each and every case reflect upon what the problem or the challenge was, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you learned from it. These reflections often lead to a need for development of the methodological knowledge and/or behaviour.

The quality assurance of project managers
Quality assurance is all about creating confidence in the fact that something or someone will meet given demands and expectations. Recognition, licensing and certification are terms used in the area of quality assurance. Market needs have led to an increasing interest in certification of project managers. IPMA (International Project Management Association) has developed a unique system of certification. According to this system, a project manager is estimated by assessors in the areas of methodology, behaviour and experience. Assessors are special people that have the ability to estimate the competence of others. The candidates receive feedback in their areas of improvement. The certification comes four different steps. For more information on the IPMA system of certification, visit the homepage IPMA:

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Comment by ratna s on June 22, 2010 at 3:13pm

With all your analysis , I would also like to add "Key learning" should be self updation and "change management" is an essential competency required by current project managers.
Comment by Outward Marketing on June 22, 2010 at 11:40am
As a fellow PMP, I agree with your analysis. Many agencies who serve private and public sector clients are beginning to understand the importance of project management. Only 33% of all projects succeed. Clients are no longer accepting cost and schedule overruns...they expect agencies to have strong PMs on board to control triple project constraints. The Obama administration has begun to direct OMB to require PMPs to serve as PDs or PMs for certain project to avoid inefficiencies. This provides a golden opportunity to PM consultants to market themselves to agencies. I can provide more information as to how you or anyone else can market yourself to these agencies. They are particularly interested in risk and communication management. For more information, visit or send me an email at or follow me on Twitter @outwardmktg or find me on LinkedIn (Outward Marketing). Carpe diem!

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