Many project managers dream of advancing their careers and becoming the boss. Unfortunately, not everyone knows where to start or how they can achieve that dream. Some think that taking various seminars will do the trick, but they realize later that it may not amount to much. In the end, they remain stuck in their dead-end project manager jobs.

Unfortunately, while attending seminars may help you get a deeper understanding of your profession, it will do little to nothing to help you get to the next level of your career.

Like many things in life, it isn’t easy to take the step and reach boss level. It means you’ll need to change more than a few things within yourself to be considered by companies/businesses worthy of the role. In fact, it will take more than just grit and determination to take on the challenge.

If you’re keen on becoming a superior project manager, learn and develop the following important qualities that companies/businesses consider exceptional:

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Strong leadership skills

There’s a saying that goes “A good captain can steer a ship through stormy seas.” This applies to project managers with strong leadership skills. They should be able to steer the team in the right direction. Additionally, strong leadership can help bring out your team’s  top performance and help them achieve their goals fast.

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Team-building skills

A well-oiled machine runs like clockwork. That’s why a superior project manager must possess great team-building skills to make sure the team works in unison. An exceptional project manager must be able to show how each team member is important, focus on their positive traits, help them perform better, and be fair to all.

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Exceptional decision-making

No matter how big a company/business is, bad decisions can drive it to the ground. As a project manager, there will always be big decisions that you need to make. And, more often than not, it needs to be made and acted upon quickly. Superior project managers have this sixth sense when it comes to decision-making.

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Effective communication skills

Have you ever played the game “pass the message”? It’s often played during team-building activities. To play it, you must form a line of people. The game master whispers a message to the first person on the line, then this player must pass the message to the next person on the line also by whispering–and so on–until the last person receives it. The last person then reveals the message to everyone, as the game master compares this to the original message given. The team whose version comes closest to the original win. Usually, the results are often comedic.

While a project manager’s job isn’t a game, knowing how to break down messages/instructions to a team in an easy-to-understand manner is crucial. A missed or misinterpreted message/instruction can cause big setbacks in any project.

A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees reported an average loss of USD62.4-million per year per company as a result of ineffective communication among employees. Master effective communication skills, and you’ll be on your way to the top.

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Technical expertise

Project management involves using a lot of software and programs to get the job done. Knowing how to use these apps will be important in performing tasks effectively and completing it on time. Of course, having deep knowledge about the technical side of being a project manager is equally important.

There are many project management softwares available online for project managers, as you will find out later on.

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Cool under pressure

Tight deadlines and stress are nothing new in the world of project management. Superior project managers know how to stay cool, thrive under pressure and deliver good results.

Having these qualities will put you in the right mindset to prepare yourself for the next level as a superior project manager. Aside from the qualities, you also need to expand your expertise. Take a look at these tips to help you do just that.

Don’t be afraid to use project management tools

Project management software is used for project planning, task delegation, scheduling, resource allocation, etc. It helps project managers and their team members to manage deadlines and budgets as well as document tasks. In short, it helps a company or an individual manage projects.

As mentioned, there are tons of project management tools available online, paid and free. Using these tools will help you and your team collaborate faster, delegate tasks easier, communicate seamlessly, and track project progress effectively. Here’s a quick list of the best tools to use:

  • Asana – If you’re an individual or a team that’s just getting started, Asana will be a great project management tool for you. For its basic free package, you can collaborate with up to 15 people using this app. It also lets you delegate tasks, assign due dates, share files, and integrate apps such as Dropbox, Timecamp, Microsoft Office 365, to name a few.
  • Basecamp – Aside from being able to do everything that Asana can, Basecamp lets you track work and see things in a wider perspective using its Hill Charts feature.

Moreover, it includes message boards and a real-time group chat, eliminating the need for distracting social media platforms.

  • Microsoft Project – Are you managing a big project involving many teams? While its platform may not be as flexible as that of the previous two apps’, Microsoft Project is still widely used by many digital project managers.

For the past 30 years, this app has been helping project managers plot tasks, assign resources and tasks, track progress, manage budgets, and analyze workload–particularly for projects with a wide scope.

Expand your knowledge the right way

While project management seminars may not be the right way to go, it doesn’t hurt to continually expand your knowledge. As such, it’s always a good idea to take refresher courses and attend seminars that will update you on the latest trends and techniques in project management.

Take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exams

Not every project manager takes this crucial step; and among those who are brave enough to take the PMP exams, only a few pass. It’s no secret that it’s a difficult exam, with some estimating a 50 to 60- percent passing rate in their first attempt. That’s why it’s very important for every project manager to have a PMP study plan.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is the ultimate go-to resource for PMP exam preparations. Various study plan templates and reviewers are based on it. You can even share your PMP study notes in countless PMP exam-related Yahoo! and Facebook groups. What matters is that your PMP study guide will help you prepare for the exams until you develop enough confidence to take the exam. In the event that you pass, congratulations! You can then add this accomplishment to your curriculum vitae, along with the qualities mentioned above; and you’re on your way to your dream project manager job.