Competencies of An Effective Project Manager


By Natasha Narh 

University of Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa


The purpose of this paper is to identify the competencies of an effective project manager. In doing this, previous literature on the subject matter is thoroughly reviewed and synthesised to collate these competencies.

Literature review revealed competencies of an effective project manager to include leadership competencies and technical competencies. There are five leadership styles (Muller & Turner, 2010) and fifteen dimensions of leadership (Muller & Turner, 2010). Leadership competency encompasses the dynamics of systems thinking in light of intellectual qualities, emotional qualities and managerial qualities. This paper proposes a possible relation amongst the elements of these leadership competencies.  Technical competencies identified from literature review, in conjunction with the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBoK), include scope, scheduling, risk, health and safety, communication, information, procurement management, value addition, and the management of the iron triangle of cost time and quality.

From these analyses, the paper sums up the key competencies of an effective project manager and briefly explains the relevance of each competence in project management


Effective project managers are said to possess certain qualities that enables them to perform optimally and to achieve set goals on any given project. These qualities come in the form of competences and acquired or taught skills.  This paper focuses on the project management competencies of knowledge, behaviours and attributes that ensure that a project manager is effective on projects.


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Editor’s note: This paper was prepared for a second semester course on Engineering Management in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

About the Author 

pmwj15-oct2013-narh-FLAG OF GHANApmwj15-oct2013-narh-AUTHOR IMAGENatash Narh

Cape Town, South Africa

Natasha Afi Narh was born in Ghana where she completed her primary education. She then relocated to Zimbabwe to attend Arundel Secondary School for her secondary education. Ms Narh holds a degree in Construction Studies and another in Quantity Surveying from the University of Cape Town where she is currently pursuing a Master in Engineering Management and Systems Thinking. Ms Narh is affiliated with the Green Building Council of South Africa and is a Green Star Accredited Professional aiming to steer on sustainability and effective management in the industry.  She can be contacted at [email protected]

Founded in 1829 as the South African College, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.  UCT is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. With approximately 25,000 students, almost evenly split between men and women, UCT is ranked among the top 150 universities in the world and often ranked as South Africa’s top university.  More information at https://www.uct.ac.za/