Alpha Project Managers
There's a class of project manager that you may not have encountered because they are so rare. These project managers are the ones you want to work for and the ones that project stakeholders ask for. These alpha project managers are in turn rewarded with salaries that are on average 85% higher than those of their peers. Such is the data that Andy Crowe collected for his Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know That Everyone Else Does Not.
This idea of an uber-PM shouldn't come as a surprise. It exists in just about every field including software development where it is often said that the top programmers are an order of magnitude more productive than the bottom programmers.
So what are the traits of an alpha project manager? First off they love their jobs. Not to surprising really as there are few things that motivate as well as a true interest in one's work. They also communicate very effectively and are able to accurately articulate an organization's strategic goals. While alphas and non-alphas rate planning to be equally important, the alphas follow through with the idea and spend twice as much time planning. Alphas are also skilled at dealing with project issues and handling project team conflict. Finally, wrapped around all of these traits is the ability to lead.
I don't know that I've ever met an alpha project manager. I've certainly worked with some very bright people, but that alone doesn't seem to qualify them based on Andy's descriptions. I can also say with some certainty that I've got a ways to go before being able to honestly put myself in to this class.