What do soft skills mean to you?

Communion skills, leadership skills, Negotiation skills, presentation skills etc…
The soft skills are so important to the success of a project that soft skills are the first thing I look for in a project manager. I know that a huge majority of those hiring project managers look at the hard skills first. Specifically, they require that most are certified as a Project Management Professional(PMP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI) or some other recognized certification authority. My view is that the PMI requirements for certification as a PMP, only ensure that the potential project manager understands the tools that a project manager uses.

For a person to be a truly great project manager they must certainly understand the tools and how to use them - but I believe that is only 20% of the success equation.

A very important 20%, without a doubt, as it is the foundation that the project is built on, but still only 20%. In addition, most of all, they must have the right attitude and what I call 'The Right Stuff'.

The 'Right Stuff' includes, among other things and in no particular order, the following:

- Enthusiasm

- They must be truly enthusiastic about their job and what they are doing. - Passion - They must be passionate not only about the project but also about being a project manager. Not just a project manager, however, but the best project manager they can be.

- Energy

- Project Management is sometimes a tiring job and they must have the energy required to hold up and stay fresh.

- Great inter-personal skills

- They need to know when to listen, when to talk and when to shut-up.

- Commitment to Excellence

- They must be committed to excellence. They must do what it takes to make their project excellent.

- Commitment to Success

- They must be committed to delivering their project and delivering it successfully.

- Sense of Humor

- They must see the humor in certain situations and not take themselves too seriously.

- The ability to motivate his/her team

- They are responsible for putting the environment in place that allows the persons natural motivation to come through.

- Self-motivation

- They must be able to motivate themselves. Recognize that action usually motivates.

- Excellent communication skills

- They need to be able to communicate both orally and in written form.

- Good negotiation skills

- They must know how to go for a win-win solution in all negotiation

- Honesty

- Honesty with their project team, their peers and their superiors. Especially when reporting on the health of the project.

- Approachability

- They must be available to their team members and also be the type of person that is easy to approach.

Having all of these Soft Skills are ideal. I'm pretty sure that most people don't have all of them. In fact, I had a beautiful Italian woman on one of my courses say to me that if she found a man with all of these Soft Skills she would marry him. I told her that if I found a man with all these Soft Skills I would marry him also but my family would probably have something to say about that. I certainly would hire him, though, whether he had a PMP certification or not.

Grade yourself on these attributes the next time you are assigned a project and work to become better at them.

Enjoy the journey

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