Collaborative competencies: Moving from ‘soft skills’ to a legitimate descriptor
This paper proposes an alternative descriptor for what is commonly referred to as ‘soft skills’ within the project management environment. A critique of the current expression ‘soft skills’ is presented, citing the move towards the use of ‘collaboration’ to describe the activities undertaken within project management and cognate disciplines. The paper contrasts the pejorative way ‘soft’ is used to describe a skill range, with the constructive, and descriptive, expression ‘collaborative competencies’. The use of the word ‘collaborate’ has become ubiquitous to describe project management and related activities; however, the way the requisites competencies required to collaborate effectively are described does not reflect the growing maturity of the profession. Therefore, a descriptor that describes the activity undertaken is warranted. The paper incorporates a mixed methods approach to quantify the incidence of relevant words, in addition to reviewing relevant literature. The adoption of a descriptor that, by definition, includes the target behavior will improve the profile of collaborative competencies so that they can be afforded greater legitimacy within the project management environment, as well as the education system that supports the profession.