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Emotional Intelligence – A Project Manager’s Best Asset?

Carmen Campos Carmen Campos

Published: 2nd May 2022

Emotional Intelligence can be described as the capability to be aware of your emotions, knowing how to express them and control them effectively. It also involves being able to empathetically and judiciously handle interpersonal relationships. There have been a number of studies that have proven how critical Emotional Intelligence is to professional and personal success. But why is it important for project managers, and what does it entail?

Why is Emotional Intelligence important for project managers to have?

There are many project management skills that are important, yet Emotional Intelligence certainly ranks at the top of the list. Why? Well, quite simply, it is a people-orientated role. You are going to be managing a group of diverse individuals and you need to be in tune with what they are feeling and thinking. People react differently. From the way tasks are given to how feedback is handed out, you need to know how to read others and address them. You also need to know how to control your emotions. After all, you spearhead the team and you need to lead by example.

Elements of Emotional Intelligence

Let’s take a look at the five key elements of Emotional Intelligence…

  1. Social skills – Individuals with higher social skills often tend to have better Emotional Intelligence. This is because they can build rapport with people and they find it easier to find common ground. You may also find it easier to inspire and influence people to achieve a goal, which is a vital element of quality leadership.
  2. Empathy – This relates to your ability to realise how other people are feeling. You can understand what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. This is essential when managing a team of different people.
  3. Motivation – The third element is your capacity to motivate yourself and others.
  4. Self-regulation – This refers to being able to handle your emotions and manage your feelings. You need to be able to control how much emotion you show.
  5. Self-awareness – You cannot self-regulate if you are not self-aware. This is all about recognising your feelings and emotions, and understanding your mood. You shouldn’t lie to yourself about how you feel; you should be able to recognise it and deal with it.

How can you improve your Emotional Intelligence?

As Emotional Intelligence is a soft skill, it is harder to be taught. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you cannot advance your levels of Emotional Intelligence. While this is something that may feature in some formal training for project management qualifications, much of your learning will involve getting to know yourself. You need to understand yourself and your emotions. A bit of soul searching is what is required. You need to understand the way you think, the way you feel, and how to exert better control. Once you do this, you will be on your way to improved Emotional Intelligence, and you will be better placed to understand others too.


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