The evolution of project management: embracing power skills

Dec 1, 2023

At Luminate we focus on attracting, nurturing and retaining talent who demonstrate soft skills of EQ and AQ (Adaptability).  The recent Pulse of the Profession 2023 report from the PMI delves further into these, referring to them as ‘Power Skills’.  We refer to it as the ‘5% of magic’ that our project managers bring to our customers.  It’s not a trait that can be easily coached.  It’s inherent.  It’s in their DNA.  And it’s a critical requirement for our PMs.

The very best PMs have these skills in spades, on top of the entry requirement of having a solid foundation of technical skills (otherwise known as IQ or smarts).  At Luminate we take IQ as a given.  You have to be smart to be part of our team.  But that’s simply the invitation to the party.  The real magic happens when the party gets underway.

What the PMI describes so well in its report is that these Power Skills allow PMs to align their projects to organisational objectives and provide the singular focus on a common North Star for their delivery teams.  PMI’s research reveals that 92% of their respondents agreed that Power Skills help them work smarter.  Furthermore, organisations that place a priority on Power Skills have higher rates of project management maturity, benefits realisation management and organisational agility.

Companies who understand the importance of these soft skills and place a value on the advantage they bring, stand to realise significant uplift in capability maturity (skill & will), project performance and delivery of promised benefits.

In the ever-evolving landscape of project management, the emphasis has significantly shifted beyond mere technical know-how. As you know, we’ve always championed EQ over IQ and more recently, AQ as the differentiator of a project manager’s abilities.

The PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2023 report illuminates this shift, introducing ‘power skills’ – a fusion of emotional intelligence (EQ) and adaptability quotient (AQ). At Luminate, we recognise that while a high IQ opens doors, the real transformative impact is made when power skills come into play.

Here are my five key insights from analysing the report:

  1. Impact of power skills: Organisations prioritising power skills like adaptability and emotional intelligence see more project success, with reduced scope creep and financial losses.
  2. Value of power skills: 92% of project professionals recognise the importance of power skills for effective work, indicating widespread acknowledgement across industries.
  3. Critical power skills: Key skills include communication, problem-solving, collaborative leadership and strategic thinking, essential for successful project management.
  4. Industry focus: Information technology, manufacturing, energy and telecommunications prioritise power skills more than sectors like government and healthcare.
  5. Combining skills for success: A balance of power and technical skills enhances project management, improving performance and adapting to market changes.

Aligning with the organisational ethos

PMI’s findings underscore the crucial role of power skills in aligning project initiatives with the larger organisational vision. An impressive 92% of professionals surveyed acknowledged that power skills contribute to more efficient and smarter work practices. This alignment transcends the conventional confines of deadlines and budget, steering projects to resonate with and contribute significantly to the overarching goals of the organisation.

The strategic advantage of power skills

In today’s competitive market, organisations prioritising power skills are witnessing enhanced levels of project management maturity and agility. Leading this trend, Luminate’s strategy has always been to attract and develop talent rich in these power skills. Our approach resonates with the insights from both PMI and PwC’s collaborative study on Narrowing the Talent Gap, highlighting the distinctive ‘5% of magic’ that our project managers bring to their roles.

Power skills are innate and indispensable

This ‘5% of magic’ is not a trait that can be fostered through training alone. It is innate, woven into the fabric of our project managers’ DNA. Luminate’s recruitment and development strategies are centred around identifying and nurturing this natural ability to adeptly navigate the intricacies of project management, blending empathy, adaptability and strategic vision.

At Luminate, we don’t just recognise the importance of Power Skills; we actively cultivate an environment conducive to their growth. We place equal emphasis on EQ and AQ as on IQ, ensuring that our project managers are not only technically adept but also emotionally intelligent and highly adaptable. This balanced approach has been pivotal in enhancing our project delivery capabilities, consistently exceeding client expectations.

Transforming obstacles into opportunities

We believe in converting challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. Our project managers are trained to view change not as an impediment but as a catalyst for development. This paradigm shift is essential in the current fast-paced business milieu, where adapting is key to maintaining relevance and achieving success.

Looking ahead, the interplay between power skills and technological advancements is set to become increasingly vital. As AI and automation redefine the project management landscape, the human elements of connection, empathy and adaptability remain indispensable. Luminate is at the forefront of this evolution, seamlessly integrating cutting-edge technology with the unique human skills of our project managers.

At Luminate, EQ and AQ are more than mere buzzwords; they are fundamental to our project management ethos. These power skills distinguish our team, empowering us to navigate the complexities of modern project management with an unmatched blend of intelligence, empathy and adaptability. By embracing these skills, we continue to set industry benchmarks, delivering exceptional value to our clients and stakeholders.