December 17, 2017


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Emotional Intelligence as a Project Management and Life Skill

By Linky van der Merwe

Most experienced project managers know the importance of Emotional Intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence can be defined as:

“Awareness of one’s own emotions and moods and those of others, especially in managing people.” Source: Collins English Dictionary

Emotional intelligence is often what differentiates great leaders from the people they lead.

Four Pillars

There are generally four pillars associated with Emotional Intelligence, namely:

  1. Self awareness – ability to recognize and monitor our thoughts and feelings.
  2. Self management – ability to think before acting.
  3. Social awareness – being aware of the emotional condition of others.
  4. Social skill – ability to manage groups of people (project teams), building social networks, finding common ground with stakeholders, building rapport.

For more information about increasing your emotional intelligence, developing social awareness and improving social skills, read “Why Emotional Intelligence is important for Project Managers, from IIL.

For a good explanation of the value Employers place on Emotional Intelligence and how you can improve your Emotional IQ, see the Infographic below.

Created by the University of Maryland:

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

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Project Success Story – Let the Ships Sail

Success Stories Shared

Success Stories Shared

Another project success story from an experienced project manager about the development of a new Forecasting system for the international Shipping giant, Maersk.

The project goal was to provide an electronic system to forecast and plan Maersk’s shipping schedules and cargo loading. The development team needed to understand a myriad of information for the cube to be developed. This included international port laws, time-zones, currencies, and the algorithms required behind the scene to create system intelligence that would enable Logistics Managers to accurately forecast, plan and schedule.

The project achieved its objective within two years of reducing the time spent on forecasting and making it more accurate. A centralised system, called Forecast, could be accessed from different countries and ports to streamline all forecasting processes in a fairly complex world.

To read more about the project challenges the team faced, what worked well and the lessons learnt, click on Success Stories Shared.

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The Project Manager and Emotional Intelligence

One quality a project manager needs to have to be really successful is Emotional Intelligence.

EQ and YOU!
Your Emotional Intelligence can help make or break you. Emotional Intelligence or EQ is your ability to handle yourself and others. It is all about your ability to get along with others and build relationships. This also means that you can face conflict with the people around you and keep those relationships intact.

Think about it, your EQ is a conflict resolution tool! Here are 3 ways that your EQ helps you resolve conflict.

#1 EQ prevents unproductive conflict

When you are self-aware (one of the five components of EQ) you understand your moods. Who do you think is more likely to engage in unproductive conflict: A person in a good mood or a person in a bad mood? The person who is in a bad mood right? To build on that, imagine the person who walks around completely unaware of their emotions. Who knows what is going to set them off, they certainly don’t know.

Let’s take this even further, to really avoid unproductive conflict you want to recognize your moods and then exhibit self-control (another component of EQ). Yes the person in a bad mood is more likely to engage in useless conflict; but this person needs to be able to control their behaviours while in a bad mood. This is the person who gets that they are cranky and is careful with their words and actions because they know they are easily upset.

#2 EQ helps YOU navigate productive conflict

Sometimes disagreements are a good thing. When you lead your team through issue resolution, not every team member will suggest the same solution. From that productive conflict the best and most creative solution can be designed. Only if YOU and your team can draw upon your self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy and social skills (all components of EQ) to work together.

As you work through the conflict you are drawing upon your awareness of your feelings during the conflict and your self-control to behave professionally. You are motivated to work things out and care about seeing the issue through until the best solution is found. You don’t care if the solution selected is your solution, you care that it is the right solution. You employ active listening (part of empathy) to guide the team through the discussion and you draw upon your social skills to seek participation from all appropriate parties.

#3 EQ helps you repair relationships

Even with your best intentions and best behaviour, not all conflict is productive conflict. Sometimes feelings get hurt. Now what are you going to do about it?

You are going to use all of your EQ skills to repair those relationships. This might involve listening to the wounded parties as they share with you why they are upset and what you can do to help. If could mean that you invite them to lunch or for coffee to show that you have no hard feelings. Whatever approach you take, the fact is that if you were not emotionally intelligent it would not even occur to you that you should work to repair the relationship. If you ignore a damaged relationship, you are inviting additional and unnecessary conflict.

Want to know more about improving your EQ? Well, here is a great audio program: “What is EQ and Why You Care”.

When you finish this audio program you will understand the components of Emotional Intelligence AND walk away with tools to help you boost your own EQ. Existing project managers who are looking for PDUs, you will earn 2.5

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