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3 Books That Will Make You a Better Project Manager

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What are you doing to become a better project manager? The Project Management Institute (PMI) says that the ideal skill set of a project manager is a combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise.

The days where a project manager provided mostly technical skills are long gone. Yes, project managers still need to develop project schedules, manage risks, calculate reserves, and manage requirements. But the best project managers also know how to cast vision, influence stakeholders, and support the strategic and operational goals of their organization.

How can busy project managers improve their skills and get Professional Development Unit (PDU) credit? Try reading—it’s inexpensive and convenient. For every hour of reading, you can earn 1 PDU. See the PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements for detailed information concerning different certifications.

Have you ever been at a symposium and heard about a book you wanted to read, but you forgot to write it down? Consider creating a book list in your favorite apps like Evernote or Google Docs. You can see all my book recommendations here.

Let’s look at how you can become a better project manager through reading. For each area of the PMI Talent Triangle, I provide one of my favorite books:

  1. Technical Project Management: Every project manager is a risk manager; some are better than others. Rita Mulcahy’s Risk Management Tricks of the Trade for Project Managers is a gem. I first read this book when preparing for the PMI-RMP exam, and it helped me immensely. Since the exam, I have referenced Rita’s tricks for identifying, evaluating, and responding to risks. Program managers, portfolio managers, and those who direct and manage PMOs will also enjoy the chapter on risk governance.
  2. Leadership: Want to influence and inspire others more? My favorite leadership book (and I’ve read a lot of them) is The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by Kouzes and Posner. I read this book every two years to refresh myself on how to deal with real organizational problems. There are lots of great case studies that illustrate why leadership is critical and how to lead more effectively.
  3. Strategic and Business Management: Do you know the difference between mission, values, goals, strategy, and projects? Erica Olsen connects the dots in the Strategic Planning Kit for Dummies. Project managers armed with this information will be in a better position to help their project sponsors align their projects to their organization’s strategy.

Ready for an Audit?

Don’t forget to document your reading. If you are audited, you must give evidence of your reported learning, including notes and dates of activities conducted.

 

For more brilliant insights, check out Harry’s blog: The Project Risk Coach

About Harry Hall

Harry Hall is a coach, speaker, teacher, and blogger in Macon, Georgia. He’s led projects and implemented PMOs for General Electric, IKON Office Solutions, and the Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. Harry received his B.S. and Masters from the University of Georgia. He has certifications as a project management professional (PMP), risk management professional (PMI-RMP), and has an associate in risk management (ARM-E). When Harry is not conducting project management workshops and helping project managers prepare for their PMP and PMI-RMP exams, he enjoys gardening, golf, guitar, and teaching others how to speak Southern. You can get Harry’s project management tips, tools, and techniques at The Project Risk Coach by clicking the little "house" button directly below.

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