From Agility to Humility, Become a Better Project Leader in 2022

We asked project professionals from around the world: What are the must-have skills for the new year?

Keep Pivoting

Christine Emerson Pirillo

Change management. Evolution is an organic process in any industry or discipline, and project managers have been leading change management efforts for years. Let’s awaken the potential by reinforcing strong communication, active listening and constructive feedback.

Christine Emerson Pirillo, PMP, analyst II project manager, Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, Pittston, Pennsylvania, USA

Franklin Onwa Photo
Agile leadership. The world is changing fast, and so should processes and products to meet changing customer demands. People need skills that can drive this transformation. Those with rigid processes will face new challenges in transforming and adapting quickly.
Franklin Onwa, PMP, senior project engineer, Deltatek Offshore Limited, Lagos

Linda Nazareth Photo

Adaptability. We don’t really know what’s going to happen. We’re in the early days of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and people need to be willing to not be comfortable in one place. We’ll need to rethink jobs, industries and careers.

Linda Nazareth, principal, Relentless Economics, Toronto

Kymberly Eckelmann Photo

Change management. Not only are organizations dealing with rapidly changing COVID impacts to their business, but digital transformation projects are becoming commonplace. Helping people to adapt will help project managers achieve project success and show strategic value as a leader.

Kymberly Eckelmann, PMP, project manager, mail transformation program, Swiss Post Solutions, New York City


Agility to adapt to the constant changes in the economy and the demands of the profession.

Busiswa Damoyi, project manager, Triviron, Cape Town, South Africa

Sheillah Karimi Photo

Being flexible enough to adapt to the changing environments—things beyond your control. There’s no place for project managers who stick to the traditional way of doing things—now or in the future.

Sheillah Karimi, PMP, senior program coordinator, water, sanitation and transport, KfW Development Bank, Nairobi

Jan Mandrup Photo

Virtual working must be first. Virtual teams, distributed teams and working remotely are no longer the exception—that’s actually the norm.

Jan Mandrup Olesen, PMI-RMP, PMP, assistant VP, head of digital platforms, Asia, Sun Life, Hong Kong 

Zohra Jane Esperal Photo

Creativity. Amid volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, it’s important to have the capacity to think outside of the box to deliver a well-thought-of solution with creative fun that builds resilience.

Zohra Jane Esperal, PMP, manager, clinical operations and prime/partner site manager, Iqvia, Manila, the Philippines

Put People First

Magda Mendygral Photo

Social intelligence—feeding into the group's collective brain. Project managers and leaders have always needed to see the perspective of the business as well as people doing the work. But now it’s even more important with remote and hybrid work.

Magda Mendygrał, project manager, Strategicabm, West Midlands, United Kingdom

Laura Samso Photo

Emotional intelligence. There’s a need for curiosity, compassion, resilience, trust and flexibility so we can adapt to changing ecosystems. Society is evolving in a way that innovations should come faster and look forward.

Laura Samsó, PMO unmanned aircraft systems programs, Airbus Defense and Space, Munich

Nowzarth Yasin Bawa

Humanity. By working on qualities such as kindness, teaching others and contributing to eradicate racism, bullying and discrimination at the workplace, you will help foster a working environment where everyone can work peacefully.

Nowzarth Yasin Bawa, PMP, senior business analyst, Dubai Technologies, Dubai

Adrian Aparaschivei Photo

Empathy. Understanding what people are thinking and feeling helps project managers understand what’s important to stakeholders and other team members—and why.

Adrian Aparaschivei, PhD, PMP, founder and CEO, Apara, Wassenaar, the Netherlands 


A user-centric mindset. Project professionals need to become even more adaptable, focusing on users instead of the product itself. It’s not enough anymore just to deliver the project on time within the budget, it has to contribute to the business and focus on users is the key.

Raquel Selem Moreira, design and innovation project manager, Pierre Fabre Laboratory, Rio de Janeiro

Steve Vick Photo

Mentorship. Many of us probably have battle scars and can help the next generation be successful, resilient and great project leaders. Mentor someone—be a positive force.

Steve Vick, project manager, Resilinc, Aurora, Illinois, USA

Arshed Mohammed Photo

People skills. I think it is time to transform project managers into project conductors. Team management, leadership, and emotional and political intelligence are vital for successful project delivery.

Arshed Mohammed, founder and CEO, Sympmy, Nottingham, United Kingdom


Empathy. In my line of work, I see many scenarios where managing stakeholders and expectations gets tossed out the window, especially when stress levels increase throughout a project.

Marie-Claude Bishara, PMI-RMP, PMP, capital project coordinator, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto 

Fine-Tune Hard Skills

Karl Fjellstrom Photo

You’ve got to be smart in data collection, because there are so many possibilities now. Even people who were trained 10 years ago may find a lot of stuff they learned might be obsolete. This is especially driven home by the remote-working challenge. If you have to work on a project without being there, how are you going to get the required information?

Karl Fjellstrom, managing director, Far East Mobility, Guangzhou


The must-have skill is agile delivery—tools, knowledge and proficiency. With the fast-moving world and ever-changing requirements and priorities, the shift from traditional waterfall to agile delivery is a must, especially when requirements and scope are not well defined, but the business objective is, and the opportunity window is short.

Ayman Abdoon, PMI-ACP, PMP, PgMP, program manager, Cisco, Dubai

Marna Schoeman Photo

Time and schedule management. You need to be able to plan and deliver, taking into account virtual teams, global workforce and various time zones—with a common delivery objective.

Marna Schoeman, PMP, strategic program manager, Absa Group, Johannesburg


How to deal with scope creep and gold plating. Several companies have been working through thick and thin to save for the impact that the pandemic brought to their businesses and anything that avoids reducing costs or wasting money would be very useful in this year.

Elton Soares, PMP, lead project manager, GE, São Paolo

Aaron Yerian Photo
It’s not just one skill but an entire toolbox of skills that can be tailored and adapted to overcome every challenge or endeavor.
Aaron Yerian, PMP, project coordinator, Beacon Hill Staffing Group, Columbus, Ohio, USA 

Lead By Example


Strategic leadership. It’s vital for project managers to keep their eyes and ears open so they know what’s going on with other projects in the organization. Stakeholders have more on their plates, so project managers must be able to think from a holistic viewpoint—not just about their project.

Tanisha Adams, PMP, PMO director, Georgia Department of Public Health, Atlanta

Lori Nevin Photo

Be mindful of what's important now¬—it will help you act with agility and focus on how your actions impact strategic objectives.

Lori Nevin, PMP, senior program manager, Triumph Group, Redmond, Washington, USA


Humility is the key to success. It keeps you focused on the things that matter and is vital to great leadership.

Andre Shojaie, chief of agile practices and continuous improvement—agile transformation, City of Montréal, Montréal


Emotional balance. Every day requires negotiating, making decisions, enduring pressure, handling contradictory information, living with uncertainty and adapting to changes. Only with an emotionally balanced mind is it possible to face challenges with excellence.

Roberto Izquierdo, PMP, IT Technical Project Manager, Grupo Versia, Bilbao, Spain 

Mariana de Azevedo Photo

Adaptive leadership, because it encompasses many other skills such as emotional intelligence, complex problem solving and learning. It has proven to be a necessary skill amid the pandemic, yet there’s still time and space and need for project managers to develop this skill considering that we are still facing uncertainty and constant change.

Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, career, people and culture advisor, AMLA, Florianopolis, Brazil

Aurelia Ivan Photo

Having that big-picture perspective is key. It will help you remain focused on what you want to do—and how to influence the world.

Aurelia Ivan, PMP, synergy program manager, Red Hat, Farnborough, United Kingdom

Yingjin Liu Photo

We should be prepared for risks and uncertainties. We need to have a very good mindset to face all kinds of challenges. That’s why it’s also important to have good health, which means taking care of ourselves.

Yingjin Liu, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, associate director, capex lead, Lonza, Guangdong, China

Don Yeong Photo

Attitude. It’s not a skill but a mindset that is much needed for any project leader. If your negative attitude never changes to a positive one, it makes you an unskilled project leader.

Don Yeong, general manager, Service Communication International, Singapore