Emotional Intelligence and Successful Project Management

Insights | 07 June 2010

An essential component of project management is making those who work with you to feel good and confident about what they do.

Giving them a chance to shine, on a deadline.

Understanding and being sympathetic to events that hold them back.

Emotional Intelligence is the key to a happy team and a successful project.

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions in positive and constructive ways. It’s about recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others. Emotional intelligence is also about engaging with others in ways that draw people to you.” (http://helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm)

Emotional Intelligence is an essential trait required in a project manager that will foster the happiness and success of colleagues and the project at hand. These ‘EQ’ skills, that may possibly be worth more than IQ, can help in verbal and non-verbal communication, in dealing with challenges, dealing with self-confidence and the ability to face grueling projects and to defuse conflicts in the workplace.

According to Salovey & Mayer in their seminal work “Emotional Intelligence” (1990), Emotional Intelligence is…

…a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.

Emotional Intelligence involves four core abilities:

•    self control
•    zeal and persistence
•    self motivation
•    empathy for oneself and others.

Emotional Intelligence involves emotional awareness of one’s being as well as cognitive processing and behavioral decision making (e.g. to act or not to act in a given situation).

The higher your emotional intelligence the more effectively you will be able to dynamically react to the world around you.

Emotional Intelligence is an innate skill that certain people have from birth. Others, learn this skill with age, as their life experience shows them how to look at the big picture and not to become paralysed by stress or relationships. A project management course can be invaluable in this regard.
Emotional Intelligence encompasses making the best out of all moments and, by default, encouraging loyalty and enjoyment in the peers that you may be managing.

Here are some key items that the emotionally intelligent person will have:

•    The Ability to Quickly Reduce Stress.
•    The Ability to Recognise and Manage One’s Own Emotions.
•    The Ability to Connect With Others using Nonverbal Communication.
•    The Ability to Use Humor and Play to Deal with Challenges.
•    The Ability to Resolve conflicts Positively and With Confidence.

The last item, “The Ability to Resolve Conflicts Positively and With Confidence” can be the hardest one to achieve. Especially in light of a tight deadline and a big team of specialists from different fields. In this case, not only are you dealing with individuals with different backgrounds, motivations and emotions, but you are also dealing with different interests and industrial points of view.

The best way to handle such scenarios is to appreciate the benefits that these vastly different viewpoints and skills can offer to the project. Their combined skills will make your project more unique and interesting. One must harmonize these people and skills as one would combine different musical chords and triads, as opposed to simply playing just another melodic tune.

The only way to handle this upmost of challenges is to be prepared and to be aware of yourself and the emotions you portray to others. The Emotional Intelligence features of managing one’s own stress, staying emotionally present and aware, communicating non-verbally, and using humor and play, will all help to manage your project strategically.

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