The role of emotional intelligence in project management

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The role of emotional intelligence in project management

The level of 'emotion' in which people connect with others goes way beyond the office. In fact, some people still don’t know or understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent.

To demystify the topic, emotional intelligence can be referred to as the ability to identify your own and others’ emotions, and to successfully develop personal relationships with clients, colleagues and family. It is measured according to five key elements:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Motivation
  • Social skills

It takes more than being organised, with good admin skills, to smash a project management position. It’s more about your intellectual maturity, and the ability to lead a team, or a company, with the right kind of emotion. This impact on business and project success has clearly been undervalued over the years.

Many project managers fail to succeed because they lack people and leadership skills. And for most companies that constantly deal with excessive project volumes, the need for properly trained staff that can communicate effectively and analyse their team’s behaviour is essential to meeting deadlines.


Why does it matter?

Project managers who are emotionally intelligent know how to maximise their team's potential, by combining the emotional diversity in the room to build a stronger team. They also know exactly how to handle people's feelings, strengths and weaknesses, and their overall personalities.

Project management training and conferencing are a great way to increase your staff’s capabilities, and is most definitely worth the time, effort and expense that you put into it. As much as the training sessions need to cover technical aspects, like setting goals and objectives, resource allocation and risk management, the true success of a project often rests on the people who are doing the work.

Here’s why emotional intelligence is an important skill to have in project management:


  • Communication

"The most common source of miscommunication in any workplace is a very simple one:  people routinely fail to realise how little they are actually communicating.  In other words, we think we’ve said a lot more than we actually have,” says Heidi Grant Halvorson from Forbes.

It is true that the majority of the time, a project manager's time is spent communicating with external and internal individuals. This is why it is essential for project managers to be able to effectively communicate with their team about goals and company values, among other important skills.

Along with actual face-to-face communication, non-verbal cues are just as important. If not more. If you have empathy for your team, you will be able to address all kinds of emotions, starting from body language to general interaction in a professional manner.

  • Leadership

It’s no doubt that one of the most obvious, yet important skills to have as a project manager is leadership. With project managers already playing such a vital role in any company, you set the tone for those around you. When it comes to complex projects or missed deadlines, people who are emotionally intelligent know how to respond to questions, assist their team with roadblocks and guide them. The key thing to remember is that if you can lead, you can deliver. Show your team that you are emotionally mature.

  • Team management

Apart from leading a team from a strategic point of view, project managers hold a key position in managing internal matters. Having trust is one of the key elements when forming relationships with teams. After all, people tend to demonstrate their trust in others through their actions. (For example: how much you monitor them and their working potential, how much you delegate to them and how much you allow people to do, without worrying about the outcome.)

Leadership alone is about helping others and inspiring them to work with you, but when you add in the team management element, you are giving your team the right shoes to compliment their efforts.

  • Sales and negotiation

With today’s humanised approach to business, it is necessary to form personal relationships with clients. Understanding what people feel, why they feel it and what they want or need is key to being a successful project management. Once again, when meeting with clients, you need to be able to understand verbal and non-verbal cues, along with body language. Understanding these things will easily influence a negotiation with stakeholders. This is key for any successful project manager.


Trained staff means a productive workforce

In a fast-paced business environment, projects already cause uncertainties which fuel emotional activity within the team. Having the ability to understand your team's emotions will help you be a more effective project manager. If you feel that you’re lacking in emotional intelligence, it is very important to attend a project management training course. Not only is it vital to help you learn the right skills and knowledge needed to manage a project and excel in your career, but it’ll help you connect with your team better.


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