Project managers, especially PMP® certified, should acquire and master leadership skills because they have the ultimate responsibility to guide the project team to success. A crucial leadership skill for project managers is Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) techniques which developed in the 1990s last century to be recognized as a leadership skill. As Golman said in his book Primal Leadership‘’ The reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions.’’.
Emotional intelligence helps leaders and team members to operate in collaboration and harmony because it entails consideration of your and others’ emotional status in subsequent communication. Google in 2016 mentioned: ‘they found that the drivers of effective team performance are the group’s average level of emotional intelligence and a high degree of communication between members’.
Emotional intelligence (EI) Pillars:
Emotional intelligence is important for communication, it is also essential for assessing stakeholder and collecting their requirements. Along with expert judgment (project managers, lessons learned, repository and consultation) and interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence equips us with a virtue for understanding ourselves and considering those of others, to cooperate effectively with them.
For the PMP® Exam, you must know that Emotional Intelligence entails two sides, the first is personal EI and the second is interpersonal side:
A. Personal Emotional Intelligence
Personale EI includes self awareness, self regulation and motivations.
1. Self Awareness
Self Awareness is about understanding your own emotions in different situations and your ability to recognise what you feel, and how this feeling going to affect your actions. Golman emphasises that leaders usually overlook self-awareness, but it is really, the basis of other emotional intelligence pillars. Also, without measuring your own emotions you will be less able to recognise others’.
For example, consider this scenario: a project manager is under the pressure of a tight deadline, however, the situation gets even worse due to weather conditions issues. The team is also feeling that pressure because the stakeholders expressed their concerns, then the PM felt that in the last status meeting. Here, the project manager should use self-awareness before addressing the issue or making any decision. By identifying and reflecting on what makes him/her feel stress and pressure, which in this case are stakeholder’s concerns and deadlines, hence he/she demonstrates self-awareness, as he/she knows what they feel.
Self-regulation or self-control, answers the question of who is in control, you or your emotion? It is easy to say but difficult to do, it is simple but not easy. Self-regulation requires effort and practice because we tend to respond impulsively to calm our stimulated emotions.
Consider this scenario as an example: Fatima is a project manager of a multi-storey construction, after starting the project the client suggested a critical change in the scope. Due to that, Fatima felt so anxious and her team and stakeholders were concerned about cost variation due to this change. To demonstrate self-regulation, the PM reconsidered her response and communication methodology with her team avoiding any signs of panic or frustration, and called for a meeting to give the team the chance to express their ideas in a problem-solving mentality. Here, Fatima did not react impulsively but reanalysed her feelings and took charge of her action with full reflection, so she thought before acting.
One pillar of emotional intelligence is to understand your motivations, ‘’Motivation in this context is about understanding what drives and inspires people’’ (PMBOK 7TH ED.). So, leaders focus on their intrinsic motivation, which stems from the inside. In intrinsic motivation individuals find positive or pleasant feelings from the work in terms of achievement, challenge, Making a difference or personal growth.
Project managers with emotional intelligence have a full picture of their motivations and understand others’ motivations as well. Besides intrinsic motivation, the PM should consider extrinsic motivation, which comes from external rewards such as recognition or bonus.
B. Interpersonal Emotional Intelligence
The interpersonal side comprises social skills and empathy.
4. Empathy or Social Awareness:
Empathy is the way of understanding, considering and correctly valuing the team’s feelings, needs and perspectives, to communicate, and cooperate with them adequately. Empathy provides important benefits to projects, for example, it can build trust and a supportive working environment.
Social awareness includes organisational awareness and social orientation: Organisational awareness is about comprehending the internal culture and politics which tend to be complex in large projects and corporations, project managers should understand organization structure and build alignment with the organization’s vision.
Service orientation aims to achieve customer satisfaction by navigating clients, stakeholders and the team’s needs. This will enhance positive relationships and provide the required resilience to adapt to changes, as well as address conflicts.
5. Social skills
Mastering other emotional intelligence categories will refine project managers’ social skills i.e., self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. Social skills offer a means of developing and building strong relationships with team members, stakeholders and clients of the project. Moreover, it serves as a tool to resolve issues and conflicts. For instance, in conflicting interests between different stakeholders about a project, social skills can ease the situation by acknowledging the needs of both parties and listening to them actively, so social skills give the manager a suitable way to apply conflict resolution techniques.
Exam Tips: the exam question will include a scenario, drawing a picture about certain behavior, your role is to interpret the certain behavior (moods, tones, behaviors, attitudes and conversation) into emotional intelligence status or one of its pillars as an answer, so you need to understant the 5 pillars. Above that, you should consider some terms like Introspection.Sprintpointer.com
To sum up, leaders need to demonstrate all of the five pillars of emotional intelligence in the workplace specifically during hard times of conflicts, pressure of time or cost and uncertainty. On one hand, use self-awareness in understanding your feelings, and self-management to redirect your unruly feeling like anger and excitement. On the other hand, use social awareness and social skills to build connections with stakeholders and team members, as you know the politics and dynamics in the organisation.
- Great Teams Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills, https://hbr.org/2017/01/great-teams-are-about-personalities-not-just-skills
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – 7th Edition
- “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman