Human Competencies of an Effective Project Manager : The role of the Professional Bodies of Knowledge and Formal Education Providers in the development of soft skills
Abstract: The determination of the elements that lead to project success is currently a major topic among the project management community. The role of the project manager and the influence it has on the overall results of the project has become a focus point for researchers, practitioners, and academics. The attempts that have been made to identify the characteristics and competencies of effective project managers has led to the acknowledgment that there is a need for a different set of competencies than those purely technical. The human and leadership skills of a project manager play an important role in the outcome of projects; therefore, it is important for these competencies to be taught and developed as part of project management education. Thus, this study aims to contribute to the understanding of the human competencies needed by effective project managers today and the extent to which project management bodies of knowledge, as well as formal education programs encourage the development and practice of such competencies. The research was carried out using a mix-method approach. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews with professors teaching different subjects within project management education programs. Secondary data was obtained from a thorough review of the main project management bodies of knowledge and project management postgraduate programs offered by accredited universities in the UK. The findings of this thesis suggest that there is a clear need for the development of the human side of project management, and that although there is no definite set of competencies for effective project managers, there are some key skills essential to those in the pursuit of success. Project management associations have shown an important change in their BOKs regarding the inclusion of topics on the human aspect of the practice from one edition to another. Moreover, as universities recognize the need to promote the development of human and leadership skills there is an opportunity to narrow the gap between the human topics covered within the programs and the methods used to teach them. However, the current role of both the BOKs and education providers is still only to create awareness on the topic rather than show and explain the use and techniques for different human skills in particular situations. Among the most suitable and effective methods for developing such competencies is the encouragement of team work, soft skills trainings, coaching and self-reflection exercises. Ultimately, it is the combined effort of the project management associations, universities, researches and practitioners themselves that will enhance the development and practice of human and leadership competencies within the project manager’s role nowadays.
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