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John P. Reiling, PMP: What is your Key Success Factor?

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JRWhat makes you a success? Read this for the correct answer!

First, let me tell you the wrong answers. It’s not your degree, or even your experience. It’s not any particular certification, including the PMP or CAPM, that you may have.

The correct answer is…it’s your SOFT SKILLS!

Does it surprise you that your most important skills – those that are most repsosnible for your success, or lack thereof, to date – are your soft skills?

You’ve probably heard this many times before, right? Well, I just saw this same them reinforced once again!

Just a few days ago, I observed a quick survey in person. In this case, it was not even specifically for project managers, but rather for ‘architects’ – as in IT architects – showing the importance of soft skills in virtually every career! This survey, done at a conference with a group of about 100 United States Department of Defense architecture professionals, provided four skill choices, and the survey results ordered them in importance as follows:

  1. Interpersonal skills – skills at dealing with a variety of different types of people within the work environment
  2. Architecture competency – ability to understand specific domain knowldege around the subject of architecture
  3. Individual competency – ability to work effectively on an independent basis
  4. Technical skills – detailed technical skills in understanding or executing on the technical aspects of the job

Interpersonal skills were ‘voted’ by practicing architects as by far the most important determinant of success. Technical skills were ‘voted as by far the least important! In fact, the next to last place skill was the ability to work independently, acting competently on an individual basis, indicating that ‘people skills’ truly do rule the day.

Given these not so surprising results, what really amazes me is that the majority of students of our online training go for the hard skills type of training, such as PMP prep, CAPM prep, ITIL, Business Analysis, Program Management, or PM certification training. Other popular titles include IT Project Management, Portfolio Management, and MS Project.

So what does this mean to you? My suggestion is this: ask yourself the question, “What is my #1 critical success factor?” Do not neglect interpersonal, or soft skills!

Now, there is no doubt that technical skills and knowledge are important. I am not trying to dissuade you from earning your PMP or CAPM certification, learning more about project portfolio management, program management, advanced project management,…. What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your current skill gaps – both hard skills and soft skills. And once you get your hands firmly around that, develop a BALANCED PROGRAM for yourself to improve both. Set out to strike a balance in your own ongoing personal development program.

If you are like most people, it will probably be easier to put together a plan to earn a certification, or to learn about a particular topical area, that it is to get your hands around something tangible realted to your soft skills. However, if you set some daily goals, and work to incoprorate one new thought or idea into your actions each day, you will find that your soft skills will begin to talke off. and I’ll bet that others around you would notice.

Couldn’t this potentially really give you an edge? If you think so, consider our current special offer for May on communications skills – and of course earn PDUs.

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John Reiling’s site, Project Management Training Online, provides PMP and CAPM certification prep training online, and plus online training in related skill areas plus soft skills training – all for PDUs. Check out our web site to learn more about our online project management training products.

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