What on earth are power skills in the context of project management?

Well, they used to be called soft skills, but they are finally being recognised as the powerhouses that they are! Project management training often focuses on the techniques and tools to manage projects, but the human element separates good project managers from great project managers. And this is where power skills come in.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) “Power skills are the behaviours that enable people to succeed” and the good news is that you will already have honed most of these during your military career. In this two-part series, we will break down each power skill and bring it to life so you can see the value of transferable skills.

Communication

This is considered the most essential power skill by project management professionals across the global industry. Effectively delivering and receiving different types of information in different formats, using different vehicles, and in various situations is incredibly important in a project environment. In addition, managing those who are involved as well interested parties (Stakeholders), and their expectations is critical to a project and can be a key driver of success (or failure). When you think back, you probably have had to deliver information before and even tested how the message got through in volatile and ambiguous situations, so you can already do this.

Problem Solving and Conflict Management

This is a core skill required for effective project management. Not because all projects are full of problems, but because all projects are responding to a challenge or opportunity that has been identified. Inherently, projects bring change, ambiguity, complexity, and sometimes resistance. As project managers, taking a step back, surveying the landscape, and making an informed decision on the most appropriate next steps is essential. In many situations you have found yourself in your career, there have been instances where you have had to hone your critical thinking skills to navigate a tricky or uncertain situation.

Strategic Thinking

This allows individuals to navigate the political landscape of an organisation whilst being able to focus on the broader picture. This is particularly important for project management professionals, as we are expected to find ourselves emotionally attached to a project and end up working in a ‘bubble’. This can introduce risk to the project because we don’t see anything external coming that might affect the end goal until it is too late. Without a doubt, there have been instances where you have had to consider a broader perspective and adjust accordingly in your military role.

Adaptability

This helps organisations avoid blindly following processes and procedures and provides scope for using the power skills we have already described and planning accordingly. We call this ‘Best Fit Practice’ in the project management industry—taking the tried-and-tested processes and making them fit the reality of the situation. If you are nothing else, you are adaptable!

Discipline and Decision Making

These are the foundations of project management. Fundamentally, project management is wrapping structure around a potentially volatile process, allowing for informed decisions. Organisations would be in chaos without the ability to instil discipline, consistency, and efficiency. Your basic training alone has provided you with the skills required to excel at these aspects of project management.

Trust Building, Leadership, and Motivation

These are some of the most valuable skills required for project management. People deliver projects, and keeping the team motivated and on a mission will enable projects to deliver sustainable change to organisations and communities. Without the people, the processes don’t work, so the role of a project manager is to show empathy with their team members, accept that they do not all have the same experience and motivate them to keep going together.

In conclusion

When considering’ Are my skills right for project management?’ the conclusion is that the core skills required for project management are already well-developed thanks to your military career. The trick is now taking these skills and making them work in the corporate environment to give you the best chance of success. And this is where Wellingtone comes in. We provide much more than a bunch of courses. We provide a safe community for you to learn, share, grow, and succeed in the project management industry.

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We are an approved Learning Provider in the ELC scheme for project management qualifications, including the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification and the Project Management Qualification.

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Monthly Newsletter

By: Hannah Francis

Hannah Francis

Published: 12 April 2024

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