How to become a great project manager? Write and speak better!

writers.blockI read this article this morning on LinkedIn by Dave Kerpen in which he advocates the importance of developing your writing skills to be taken seriously in your career.  It seems that it should go without saying that anyone in the field of project management should immediately acknowledge the obviousness of this notion.  The same would hold for developing and improving your speaking skills since I believe they go hand in hand.   And if as they always say, that the success of managing project is 90% communication then these two skills should be at the forefront of what we as project practitioners should be working to improve on a daily basis.  But I have to agree with Dave Kerpen when he states:

The number of poorly written emails, resumes and blog posts I come across each month is both staggering and saddening. Grammar is off. There are tons of misspellings. Language is much wordier or more complex than necessary. Some things I read literally make no sense at all to me.

Writing is a lost art, and many professionals don’t realize how essential a job skill it is. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, every time you click “Publish” on a blog, “Post” on a LinkedIn update, or “Send” on an email, you are putting your writing out into the world.

I see this phenomenon every day especially in my field both from teams that I manage as well as my correspondence with other project manager via the written word.  I think one of the main reasons for this is that the project management field is dominated by industries such as construction, engineering and of course IT.  Those fields have traditionally not done a very good job of developing writing skills and definitely not speaking skills as well.  Sadly as a humanities major, I have not seen the best of quality in the output of writing in that discipline when I was in college as well as working with people with a humanities major or background.  And I cannot recall any emphasis on how to speak well during my college days either in the humanities or the science classes I took.

Of course just focusing on writing and speaking well is not enough.  It’s also having a wide breadth and depth of knowledge and not just of project management but general business as well as science, art, economy, etc. and the ability to synthesize and articulate the interconnections as well as distinctions between those areas that will truly make you a great writer, speaker and overall communicator for your profession.

I agree completely when the Dave Kerpen in the LinkedIn article states that “your writing is a reflection of your thinking.  Clear, succinct, convincing writing will differentiate you as a great thinker and a valuable asset to your team.”  If your thinking is not good, your writing will not be good.  If your writing is not good, then how you speak will not be good and neither will your career as a project manager.  Sorry to be harsh, but I believe this to be absolutely true.

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