The Soft Skills in Project Management Debate

Soft skills for Project Managers is a topic that is regularly raised without any real resolution of where the balance between technical (hard) skills and people (soft) skills lies.

The industry magazine Project published an article about soft skills and the APM blog asked "Are the soft skills too soft?".

The question is too simplistic, soft skills encompasses a wide range of skills and anyone responsible for delivery will need a mix of hard and soft skills to get the job done. However, in the case of project management, it is the 'management' element that is the key to which soft skills are needed. Management requires an understanding of how to communicate and work with stakeholders and motivate team members.

In contrast, the soft skills of leadership are needed in environments that have been less defined. Often situations that are necessary to be dealt with as they are required to get the project delivered but are not to do with management.

Sometimes project managers are expected to be leaders. Both require soft skills, I would argue different ones. This makes the debate even more complex.

We believe soft skills and competencies are at the heart of good project management. We have written more about what these are, and how the impact the delivery of project management in our Article Project Manager Competencies - Soft Skills and Behaviours