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The Successful Project Manager: A Balance of Hard and Soft Skills
By Brandeis University

Everyone wishes they could be better at their work, even if they are Fortune 500 CEOs. No matter how far up the management ladder you have climbed, there are always means of improvement. What separates the good from the bad in terms of leadership?

Why It Fails

Projects fail for a vast number of reasons. The most common reasons, however, are largely management-based. These include:

  • Poor (or no) planning
  • Inflexibility
  • Lack of communication
  • Zero accountability for success and failure

Soft Skills

While there are many formula you can put into a database and crank out numbers, ultimately the calculations of efficiency are not what make good managers. Rather, a number of soft skills determine much of what is good and bad in the management world. These skills are communication driven, since a manager spends nearly nine out of ten working hours communicating with members of their team. Soft skills include:

  • Organization
  • Articulation
  • Influence
  • Empathy

Hard Skills

At the same time that soft skills are valuable, they are more difficult to quantify. Harder skills are needed for the corporate ladder. Managing time and money are two of the most valuable, and the budget will occupy much of a manager’s time. Other hard skills include:

  • Project issues
  • Metrics of success
  • Risk factoring
  • Planning

Mixing The Two

Over nineteen of every twenty project managers will say that hard skills are easier to teach than soft skills, but both are quite important. A prospective manager can work on both simultaneously to improve their capabilities.

To learn more about the hard and soft skills required for successful project management, take a look at the infographic below created by Brandeis University.

Balance of Hard and Soft Skills in Project Management (Click to Enlarge)

Balance of Hard and Soft Skills in Project Management (Click Image to Enlarge)

This post was written by professors at the Brandeis University’s Masters in Project and Program Management program. An elaborate post on the subject can be found here.

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