One of my program management leads commented to me this week that she was explaining to her engineer husband how program management is an art rather than a science. I couldn’t agree more! Of course being skilled at creating a good schedule and writing clear status reports are important qualities. These can be easily learned in a class or from your manager. A solid understanding of the business is also key. That said, the soft skills required to be a truly effective program manager are the keys to success in the role. Building relationships with team members and stakeholders. Being empathetic so you care about someone else’s problem. Really knowing how to listen to (and not just hear) what a concerned team member is saying. Having the finesse to drive alignment in a meeting full of people each with their own agendas. Knowing how to push team members just enough to get the job done but have them still invite you for coffee in the end. This is NOT science, people! It’s truly an art to do these things really well, and I tip my hat to the very talented and wonderful program managers at Zendesk who practice their art each and every day!