The 6 central roles of the project manager

Timo Gerhardt, Tuesday 30 August 2022 | Reading time: 8 min.

The project manager plays a crucial role in every project. In order to be successful in their position, they must possess a wide range of competencies. 


The importance of managing a project

The project manager plays a very central role in the entire project process. He is responsible for planning, coordinating and monitoring the project. His behavior determines whether the project will be a success or fail at the end of the day.

The term project leader is often ascribed the same meaning. And despite the terminology, management and leadership do not do justice to the actual tasks to be accomplished in their entirety. In addition to management skills, other competencies are needed to be successful as a project manager and to be valued in the team. 

In the following, you will learn which 6 essential competencies are involved and which roles you should take within the project team in order to manage projects more successfully.

The initiator

Leadership behavior has changed dramatically in recent years, and projects have not remained unaffected. Authoritarian leadership has been increasingly replaced by more participative styles and both responsibility and authority have been increasingly delegated to employees. Thus, employees can also increasingly contribute to the success and relieve the supervisor.

Transferred to the management of a project, this means that the project manager does not order the team what to do. Rather, attention should be drawn to what tasks need to be completed in order to achieve the common goal. Thus, the leader initiates an open exchange and team members independently take on tasks that correspond to their competencies. This approach additionally motivates employees.

The role model

Having a role model is not only important for people in a project or work context. In everyday life we also always need persons who set a good example so that we ourselves can realize our full potential. Especially in an increasingly digitalized world characterized by anonymous interactions and great distance, it is important to have a real and inspiring reference person. In the project context, this person should be convincing on both a professional and a social level. The project manager's goal here is to trigger intrinsic motivation in the employees. If the project team develops a certain passion and wants to learn and achieve the best possible project result, this can be a decisive factor for project success.

On the one hand, the project manager can lead by example on very simple matters. If meetings are always started on time and tasks are completed on time, such behaviors can also be expected from employees. On the other hand, the project manager can serve as an inspiration in his role model function. If they shows great enthusiasm for the project, there is a high probability that this spark will also spread to their team.

The coach

If a role model develops into a mentor and coach, this relationship becomes even more valuable for the employee. While one learns from a role model only through observation and tries to imitate him in a goal-oriented manner, one learns from a coach likewise through interaction. As a result, in the best case, the project manager responds to the individual needs of the members of his project team. This creates added value for both sides. While the employee can expand his know-how, the project manager can shape the team individually according to his ideas. He coaches his team members regarding different skills and thus obtains a heterogeneous team with a broad reservoir of different abilities. In this way, the project manager can exploit the maximum potential of his team.

The negotiator

For the employees in the project to be willing to make their resources available, added value must be created for them. On the other side is the client, who pays for a relatively clearly defined project performance. The third party involved is the company itself, which is interested in an overall profitable implementation of the project. In this constellation, the project manager acts as a mediator. The task is to design the implementation in such a way that each of the affected parties benefits from the project. In addition, this must be communicated accordingly so that the stakeholders can all be satisfied.

The listener

The project manager should always be aware of his environment. To be able to assess the further course of the project, he must always be informed about any developments in this context. Normally, these are not all automatically brought to the leader's attention. Especially when it comes to informal factors, such as team satisfaction, the project manager must generate this information by actively listening. This enables him to intervene if a development does not go as planned. 

In addition, he should act as a trustworthy contact person so that employees turn to him when inconsistencies arise. This also gives him valuable insights into other factors relevant to the project.

However, the task of listening also extends beyond the boundaries of the company. If there are political, legal or technological developments that affect the project, it is the project manager's duty to be aware of them. Only then can the project be adjusted accordingly to be completed successfully despite the changing environmental conditions. 

The working member

The project manager is also a member of the project team. So, in most cases he not only assumes leadership and coordination tasks, but also must handle certain tasks in the area of his own expertise. Here he must perform what he himself expects from his team members and thus can set a good example. This makes it even more important as a project manager to complete his tasks conscientiously and on time. If this is not done, it signals to the project team that the project does not seem to be taken seriously by the leader and is therefore probably irrelevant. 

In the best case, the project leader even takes on one or two tasks that no other member wants to take on. In this way, the leader shows his good will and manages to unite the team behind him.


Leadership skills alone are not enough to become a successful project manager. Other roles must also be taken to successfully bring a project to the finish line: The project manager must bring technical skills to be a working member himself, coach his team, and anticipate the changing environmental conditions for the project. He must also have social skills to be able to lead by example and act as a trustworthy contact person for his team. 

To facilitate the project manager's daily work despite a multitude of diverse tasks, project management software that is exactly right for you should be used for project implementation. Get to know the advantages of the InLoox project management solution.

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