Ask ten project managers what project management skill is most important to them, and you’ll end up with ten different answers. If you are familiar with the PMBOK® Guide, then you should understand that not all knowledge areas carry the same weight for each person. The most important skill is subjective depending on the size and nature of the project, such as whether it’s for an internal or external client, whether the project manager has profit and loss responsibility, and the criticality of the competing constraints.
I think the number one skill that project managers need is the ability to cope under (often extreme) pressure and stress. You can be Magna Cum Laude in project management education, yet fail as a project manager because of poor coping skills. Human resource management skills are now taking precedence.
Poor coping skills on the job can have an impact on one’s home life, as well. In the early years of project management, having a command of technology in a technical discipline was considered more important than behavioral factors. People with poor human skills, especially coping skills, were assigned as project managers solely because of technical superiority.
How many husbands or wives understand what their spouse does as a project manager? It’s probably just a small percentage. Years ago, I conducted two seminars on “Understanding Your Spouse’s Profession as a Project Manager”; the only people allowed to attend were the spouses. It was my belief that spouses can help project managers develop better coping skills if they truly understand what it means to be a project manager.
Perhaps you found this interesting. In any event, I have no intent to resurrect this seminar.