Hone your skillset

2. Hone Your Skill Set

What skills are the most essential to project management success? Ask 10 different project managers that question and you'll probably get 10 different answers. But the following abilities are the ones we deem to be most vital:

Leadership

Without strong leadership abilities, it's impossible to reach peak PM performance. Why? Because everyone working on your project will be looking to you for guidance and support. While you might not have subject expertise in every area needed to complete your project, you are in charge of leading the folks who do and bringing them together to form a cohesive

This begs the question: how can one improve their leadership skills? We have a few tips:

Be Confident:

If you aren't confident in the direction you're leading your team, why would any of them want to follow you? If you feel that you lack confidence, educate yourself. When you know what you need to do, you'll become more self-assured.

Inspire Your Team:

As a project manager, you need more than confidence. You need to be able to inspire your team to work hard and complete goals. This can be done by sharing your complete project vision with them and how it will benefit the company.

Hold Everyone Accountable:

When everyone on your team (including you!) are held accountable for their actions, trust and respect between staff members will grow and projects will get done on time and on budget more consistently.

Communication

Communication is crucial to the success of any project. If you don't communicate effectively with key stakeholders in your company, it will be hard to get approval for necessary projects. And if you fail to communicate well with your team, they won't understand the jobs they're supposed to complete, leading to costly mistakes and increased roadblocks. Fortunately, communicating with others in your organization isn't that difficult:

Prioritize Communication:

The first thing you must do to communicate effectively with your team is prioritize the practice. When communication is emphasized, everyone will naturally talk more, leading to better collaborations and more innovation.

Use Communication Tools:

Chat apps like Slack and visual collaboration software like CloudApp and its screen recorder software make it easy to stay in touch with colleagues. We'll talk more about investing in the right tools for project management in a later section.

Learn to Listen:

True communication is a two-way street. If all you ever do is give orders, you're staff won't feel like valued members of the team, become less engaged, and won't be as productive as they could be.

Emotional Intelligence

According to Howard Gardner, a Harvard theorist, emotional intelligence (EQ) is "your ability to understand other people, what motivates them, and how to work cooperatively with them."

This skill is incredibly important in project management! When you understand how each member of your team ticks, you'll be able to assign them tasks that correlate best with their natural abilities. You'll also be able to tell when specific staffers become overwhelmed and need a helping hand to complete their work. Lastly, emotional intelligence can help you better motivate and inspire the folks who work for you, which we already determined is a key ability that all great leaders share.

Tip improve your EQ

Analyze Yourself:

Why do you do the things that you do? By analyzing yourself, you'll gain valuable insight into the minds of others as well. In all likelihood, you're not the only one who reacts to certain happenings in specific ways.

Practice:

While some people are born with more emotional intelligence than others, it is a skill that can be learned and developed. By observing others and asking them how they

feel about certain subjects, you can improve your EQ.

Problem Solving

Unfortunately, few projects ever go completely to plan. If you've been in the project management game for a while, you know this to be true. When problems arise, you need to be able to handle them efficiently. Otherwise, you'll lag behind schedule and/or exceed budget. Here's how to become a better problem solver:

Change Your Perspective:

Don't think of problems as obstacles, but learning opportunities. This is important because most humans are hardwired to avoid difficult situations. When project-related issues are seen as a chance to improve, they become exciting rather than burdensome.

Let Your Creativity Run Rampant:

Sometimes tough problems require outside-the-box solutions. But you won't be able to think of these solutions if you continually stifle your creativity. So give yourself license to think of wild ideas. One of them might be the perfect answer to the challenge you're facing.

Change Your Scenery:

It seems simple, but a change of scenery can spark amazing new ideas. If you simply can't think of a suitable solution to the challenge you face, go for a walk, workout at the gym, or eat a delicious meal in a new restaurant. Your time away from the issue will allow your subconscious mind to solve it for you.

If you're able to develop these four skills, you'll undoubtedly become a better project manager. But don't make the mistake of thinking your personal abilities are the only thing you need to excel in project management! You also need to invest in the right tools listed in the next chaper.

Chapters in this eBook