Inside the Project Manager's Mind
By Toni Ragusa, PMP
I have been interested in emotional intelligence for many years. It was first introduced to me in graduate school long ago. The most influential book in the area is Daniel Goleman's book Emotional
Intelligence (1995). As a project manager, I have learned
that no skill is more necessary to possess in your toolkit than
emotional intelligence. It is what makes a good project manager a great project manager.
Emotional intelligence is defined by Goleman as "managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goals."
According to Goleman, the four major skills that make up emotional
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
Numerous studies over the years have shown that emotional competencies are more important than intellectual abilities. Emotional intelligence frequently includes open communication and proactive behavior.
How Does a Project Manager Use Emotional Intelligence?
a project manager, we manage people who don't report directly to us. We frequently
find the team of stakeholders has a very different agenda than we do. We are
given the responsibility of "making it all work" and delivering the project successfully. Thus, a project's success depends upon the project manager's ability to influence and persuade team members and stakeholders on numerous behavioral and emotional levels. In my view, this requires a large degree of emotional intelligence on the part of the project manager.
Project management is a highly collaborative undertaking; many times it extends into multi-cultural/global teams. Project managers' skills are more diverse because successfully delivering projects demands it. But the key skill is still the ability to influence stakeholders. This ability has evolved to include the ability to influence stakeholders globally; the sphere of influence of many project managers today is international.
Moreover, a project - any project (business or IT) - requires the dreaded c-word: CHANGE! Every project (whether we want to see it or not) introduces organizational changes in order to achieve a desired outcome. The impact of change on end users, stakeholders, project team members and others can be advocated, marginalized or rejected based upon the project manager's leadership. A project manager, therefore, is an emotional guide for stakeholders within an organization through changes.
The project manager learns fairly quickly what the organization's motivation and acceptance of change is and subsequently must adapt his or her managing style to effectively implement the change. Many times, the stakeholders are neither inspired nor willing to be led down the change path. Consequently the project manager must, to paraphrase Darwin, adapt or die.
Adaptive leadership is another dimension of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to discern and calculate the required degree of transformation required to achieve effective performance and desired outcomes. The marketplace, in general, demands that we, as project managers, make on-the-fly adjustments to build and maintain positive relationships while motivating and focusing others to achieve success. As project managers, we must use our emotional intelligence to build our interpersonal skills and abilities to influence.
As all project managers know, the ability to develop
and sustain relationships leads to successful project results. Understanding emotional
intelligence and honing our own emotional intelligence provides an invaluable
edge in building the relationships necessary to excel within the project management