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Why do project managers need emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence Training For Project Managers

Successful project management requires so much more than technical skills and a strict adherence to accepted methodologies. It requires the development and effective use of emotional intelligence (EI). In this article, we'll delve into the concept of emotional intelligence, its impact on project performance, and practical ways of improving it within your project teams so that greater value can be delivered, and perhaps help the journey be more enjoyable too.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, often denoted as EI or EQ, is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in a positive and constructive manner. It involves empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and social skills. These competencies don't just enhance interpersonal relationships; they can dramatically improve project outcomes and the value created too.

The Relevance of Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

In the sphere of project management, when applied correctly and consistently, emotional intelligence can transform the way you plan a project, navigate through project challenges and develop commitment to a right first time, on time, every time standard with team members.  The seemingly ‘soft skills’ of emotional intelligence can be the difference that makes the difference to the success of a project and engagement and commitment of the project team.

The Value of Healthy Self Awareness

Self Awareness lets the project manager recognise their emotional triggers, responses and impact.  Balanced self awareness enables the project manager to understand how their emotions, moods and focus affect their communication, quality of decisions and actions. This helps to create an open, transparent environment that encourages constructive feedback to and from all parties, and promotes continuous learning.  Feedback to the project manager and other senior stakeholders isn’t just invited; it is heartily endorsed and encouraged.

The individual who tends to really need candid feedback is too often the person who doesn’t get it.  That’s the project manager.  The leader.  The boss.  Excessive or exclusive focus on ‘getting the project completed’ can easily result in a transactional relationship with team members.  Balancing getting the job done with a unique set of deeply human skills is where the immense value can be realised.

The project manager who partners healthy self awareness and reality testing with balanced relationship focused competencies and skill is normally the manager who delivers greater value for the organisation.

Balanced Empathy in Action

Empathy, a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, enables the project manager to understand team dynamics, better understand diverse perspectives and develop a more authentic relationship with stakeholders, peers and team members. The demonstration of balanced empathy enhances communication, team cohesion, and ultimately, project outcomes.  It is important to remember; being empathic is not the same as ‘being soft’.  The project manager can still be assertive.  Empathy just helps to take the edge of what might normally be a sharp message.

Motivation: The Engine of Success

Intrinsic motivation, another key component of emotional intelligence, fuels the drive for achieving project goals. A motivated project manager can authentically engage with and even inspire team members to actually want to engage with him/her, focus on delivering optimal value and enjoy their journey too.  It is important that the project manager tailors her/his communication approach to match individual team members and stakeholders.  

Some team members may welcome and even pursue feedback from the manager on how they are performing.  This person only feels assured when they are told they are doing well, external motivation trigger.  Other team members will not pursue or welcome this feedback as they have a ‘I just know I’m doing a good job’, internal motivation trigger.  Do you as manager know which team members and stakeholders prefer each option?

The Vital Role of Social Skills

Finally, social skills are critical for managing disagreement and conflict, building stronger relationships within the team, with stakeholders, and they with you, as well as effectively communicating and successfully delivering project objectives.

We can’t cover every aspect of emotional intelligence for project managers in this post.  You are welcome to get in touch for an exploratory chat about your organisation’s requirements.  We’re here to help.

To learn more about how your organisation and employees can benefit from a tailored Emotional Intelligence training course, just complete the contact form.

Or why not call us on 0845 052 3701?

Everyone was highly impressed with the facilitation and content of the training.
B Paniyatou
 - HR Manager, Capel Manor College