All-Time Greatest Project Manager

It would be fun to do a search on this phrase and have your own picture pop up. Mine does not. Neither does yours. But this article isn’t meant to single out who is the greatest project manager of all-time. Though I’m taking suggestions and nominations with first names starting with “B”. The purpose here is to consider what makes a project manager great.

Being the best

We want to be the best – strive to be the best. Most of us do, anyway. And most of those that don’t eventually get weeded out – thankfully – into other professions. The concept of being the best takes me back to my first professional career-type job and my manager told me how when he wrote his first program it compiled right the first time…no errors. I believed him at the time…looking back now I’m not so sure. He’s retired now but still a Facebook friend so I’ll let him comment if he dares. But what I’m getting at is this….right out of college that, to me, was a characteristic of possibly being the best developer ever. No errors coding the first time through. Wow. 

In terms of project management, we could consider a lot of things that might make one the all-time greatest project manager.  Never fail on a project. Never go over budget. Never move off the specified timeline. Never upset the customer. Always manage the project team fairly and properly…no conflicts…no issues. Always deploy a very workable solution to a very pleased end user community. The list could go on for a while. But I think it might be easier to define a great project manager (no one can really be the called the greatest of all-time, right?) in terms of some key characteristics. In your opinion, what would these be? Let’s give it a try…

Attempting to define the best

Back to project management. How would you identify the best project manager to ever exist? Here’s a few possibilities which come to mind for me…

  • All projects successfully deployed
  • All projects on time
  • All projects on budget
  • No customer complaints
  • Tracks everything
  • No complaints and only praise from team members
  • Highly sought out for new projects
  • Etc., etc.

The list could go on forever. Does such a person exist? All good PMs meet some of these bullets, but I don’t know of any project manager with significant experience who can honestly say they’ve delivered every single project on-time and on-budget with no customer complaints ever. And who hasn’t had a project canceled or without some significant issues? It just doesn’t happen that way. 

Characteristics of the very best

I’ve personally compiled in various articles and in notes some things I consider to necessary ingredients into the best project manager ever. It’s not an end-all list…I’m sure our readers can come up with more…but it’s a nice list to strive for. Yes, some of these are pie in the sky things – especially if you consider possessing them all at once, all the time, on every project. I’m not sure anyone possesses all of these at the same time, but I think a good list to strive for would read something like this:

  • Excellent communicator
  • Good organizer
  • Confident leader
  • Good listener
  • Well connected in the organization
  • Problem/conflict solver
  • Experienced negotiator
  • Task completor
  • Change agent
  • Customer focused
  • Stubborn
  • Honest
  • Passionate about success


This list probably isn’t very complete. I could leave my Macbook open and keep adding to it for the next ten days, I’m sure. And I’d love to hear what our readers consider to be key traits of what would make up the greatest project manager of all-time. Feel free to share. Does this list refer directly to you? If you think so, tell us! Seriously though…it’s a good start and possessing some of these and striving for most will make us successful in the eyes of the customer most of the time. I’m all about on time and on budget delivery, but nothing beats the satisfied customer. That’s Job One in my book. You get to that point and the rest will pretty much take care of itself. Do you agree?  Tell us… 

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