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Project Management Emotional Intelligence

By Demetrios Gianniris,
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

There is no question that having high intellectual intelligence improves your chances of success in corporate America. But history has shown time and time again that IQ alone will not get you through the dark days and tough times.

Consider why it is that when certain people walk into a room it brightens up, or why we usually seek advice from certain people. Why would you never question what certain people have to say, but never trust what some others usually say?

Plato once wrote that all learning has an emotional base. Yet, most Project Management literature gives little attention to the emotional contribution to the success of a project. Daniel Goleman was one of the first authors to use the term emotional intelligence to define management competencies. He defines emotional intelligence in terms of two categories - Personal Competence and Social Competence. Personal competence measures the ability to manage oneself, while social competence measures the ability to handle relationships. One lays the foundation for interactions, while the other uses empathy to sense emotional cues which can contribute to early detection and resolution of issues.

The fact is, academically brilliant but socially inept individuals have little chance of becoming successful project managers (or people managers at all). But emotional intelligence is certainly learnable. The challenge is that it cannot be learned in an intellectual way, but rather in an emotional way.

Here are six techniques that may help in the development of emotional intelligence:

1) Identify a role model.checklist
One of the best means of achieving emotional intelligence is by identifying a role model – someone you admire. Pattern your activities after the successful person whose character and traits are those you wish to possess.

2) Develop rules to live by, and live by them.
Emotional intelligence is a planned process of development. Choose the code of ethics and rules you wish to live by, and direct your behavior toward sticking to them in everything you do. If you fall off the horse, identify the cause, get back on and keep practicing.

3) Develop a system of reducing stress.
High stress levels overwhelm the mind and body, severely degrading our ability to rationalize and make decisions. The key is realizing you are stressed, identifying your response, and countering it by using your senses in a way that helps you find things that are soothing.

4) Watch your communication signs.
Great communicators are typically great listeners. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, be aware of (and in control of) your nonverbal cues. The way you listen, look, move and react tells your audience a lot about how well you are listening and caring about what is being said.

5) Have emotional awareness.
Be aware of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions. Observe the effect they have on the environment around you. This will help you understand your motivations and help you align them with the rules you want to live by. If at all possible, avoid making decisions when you are either too frustrated or too happy.

6) Learn to stay positive.
If you always see your glass as half-empty, so will everyone else you are leading. Know that conflicts are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean they are a bad thing. Foster a healthy environment of discussion by encouraging constructive feedback and laying out the pros and cons of each potential conflict resolution. When you are in emotionally charged situations, stay focused on the goal and consider what is worth arguing about and what is not. Most important, learn to forgive and end arguments that can’t be resolved (it takes two to keep an argument going, choose to disengage if necessary, even if you still disagree).


Interested in learning more about project management? Don't miss these great Hedge IT articles by Demetrios Gianniris:


Demetrios Gianniris is Director of Project & Technology Management (PTM) at Eze Castle Integration. He is responsible for overseeing the daily administration and operations of the Project Management team, including project design development, construction management, professional services and information technology consulting. Follow Demetrios on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dgianniris.

Photo Credit: Istock

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