The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

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Kiran Bajpai

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: February 23, 2021

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The success of any project is teamwork and team efforts. But, in the fast pace of professional politics, race, and competition, most of us leave all our emotions on the other side of the corner while entering into the office premises.

However, only a handful of professionals are aware of the role that emotional intelligence plays in the success of any project. Further, only a few veteran professionals know that having keen emotional intelligence or EQ competencies is the most sought after skill which recruiters find in project managers. This blog will help you understand how project management needs emotional intelligence to make a smooth workflow between the managers and delegates.

Brief on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, driven out from Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990, is like an art that involves understanding, monitoring, and controlling emotions. It is not only limited to understanding others’ feelings, but it also includes handling and respecting the opinions of others. 

What Factors are a Part of Emotional Intelligence?

From emotional self-control to emotional self-awareness and from social awareness to relationship management, emotional intelligence is inclusive of multiple elements. Below are some of the components which emotional intelligence comprises of:

  • Demonstrating excellent social skills and behavior
  • Ability to motivate oneself and others to manage self-improvement
  • Capabilities to show empathy, observe perception and foresee the obstacles of others
  • Experience in rightly controlling one’s emotions and respond accordingly while keeping in mind other’s situations, concerns, and experience
  • Demonstrate self-awareness and proactiveness

Now that we have seen what emotional intelligence and its elements are, it is the time to see the flip side of what is a project management and how EI and project management are both closely related to each other.

Also, Read: The Five Phases of A Successful Project Management Cycle

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Project Management?

For a project manager to sustain and aim to achieve goals, emotional intelligence is of utmost importance because managing a project is a team effort. It can become the single most significant differentiator of success between the communication flow of managers and employees. Besides, project management involves effective communication, risk handling, and if the team’s morale is low, the efficiency will definitely hinder the overall progress of the team’s effort. 

A project manager is directly involved in every activity right from the project integration, scheduling, and cost management to resource procurement, stakeholder management, and quality assurance. If the manager lacks the people skill and team management skills, which are the essential components of emotional intelligence, the entire project can suffer. 

Also, grabbing hard skills is not as tricky as aiming soft skills, and all the elements of emotional intelligence revolve around soft skills. Thus, no matter how skilled a project manager is, if the psychological aspects are missing, it will lead to conflicts between employees, demotivation, clashes, and reduced efficiency. 

As per a research done by a profound consultant and business coach Patrick Mayfield, today almost every successful project manager likes to spend around 8-12% of their time in formulating people-focused activities.

Further, it is also true that employees look for a leader and not a boss. Thus, if a project manager wants to work more like a leader, s/he must have the strong EQ to win the trust of his or her team. 

Also, Read: How to Use Project Management for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Areas involved in project management:

If we break down the project life cycle, there are around ten areas in which we can bifurcate project management:

Core Areas Involved in Project Management 
Project Integration Procurement
ScopeHuman Resource Management
TimeCommunication
CostRisk Management
QualityStakeholder Management

Let us now look at the involvement of EQ in each area of project management:

1. Project Integration

Project integration involves structuring the strategy of the entire project. If a project manager has strong EI, s/he can use it in identifying the objective of its stakeholders and can act as a link between top management and his/her team. This will help in better planning and structuring the path of a project. Here the most required EI skills to be used are:

2. Scope of the Project

By using EI skills, a project manager can help and motivate the team to stick on to the scope of the project. Here the most required EI skills to be used are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self- emission
  • Communication

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3. Time and Schedule Management of a Project

As discussed earlier, a project has a defined life cycle that must be completed in the stipulated time. Thus, a project manager here must-have skills like:

  • Self-regulation
  • Accountability
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • A calm and peaceful mind

4. Project Cost 

Cost and budgeting are two essential components of project management, and thus it requires traits like:

  • Accountability
  • Self-supervision
  • Good planner 
  • Strategic thinker
  • Problem solver
  • Negotiation

5. Quality Assurance

If a project is of poor quality, the stakes of losing reputation are high. Thus, to assure the quality, a project manager should have EI skills like:

  • Self-management
  • Detail-oriented
  • Honesty
  • Team player

6. Resource Management

Even if a single resource is not managed correctly, including the raw material, technology, or people, the entire project will face delays in operations. Thus, to ensure that all resources are intact, a project manager must be efficient in EI skills like:

  • Conflict handling
  • Motivation
  • Understanding
  • Quick responder
  • Relationship builder
  • Observer

7. Communication

To smoothly handle the project, communication is of utmost importance, and if a manager is poor at communication skills, the project will die. Thus, a manager must be skilled in:

  • Neutral with emotions
  • Good speaker
  • Good listener
  • Empathic
  • Relationship handling
  • Stimulator

8. Risk Management

Handling projects involve quick decision making and risk-taking abilities. Apart from these other skills which can help you in successfully delivering a project are:

  • Strong perspective
  • Delegation
  • Impactful
  • Parley
  • Presentation
  • Team player

9. Procurement 

A project requires the right resources and technology, and procuring; the best one is the task of a risk manager. Even here, EQ skills are needed, which are:

  • Relationship management
  • Mediation
  • Future looking abilities

10. Stakeholder Management

The project involves the role of stakeholders, and they look for the right ROI from a project. Thus, if you want to win the hearts of all stakeholders, you require skills like:

  • Social skills
  • Relationship management
  • Team player
  • Motivation
  • Self-esteem
  • Empathic

Thus, in every aspect of project management, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role. In every project, directly or indirectly, having strong EQ abilities can make you set apart from others. Always, in a project, the entire team eyes their leader. Hence to become a leader, one has to efficiently handle all the aspects needed to have emotional intelligence skills.

Also, Read: Reasons to Adopt Best Project Management App in 2020

So now the question arises, how do you improve your emotional intelligence to become a leader and successful project manager? The below points uncover the answer:

Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Capabilities:

  • Utilize assertive communication. The more neutrally you’ll communicate with the members of your team, the more positively they’ll be able to handle their assigned tasks.
  • Don’t react to conflicts. Respond. During the difference of opinions, emotional outbursts and displaying anger is usually the first and foremost way of behavior. Try to stay calm in stressful situations. It will ultimately relax the team members as well knowing that the main person of the team is cool during disagreements.
  • Practice listening skills. An emotionally intelligent manager will actively listen for clearly to his/her team members before responding to them under presumptions. This will ultimately help you prevent misunderstandings.
  • Try to read between the lines. At times, team members might not be too comfortable to directly approach any issue or conflict. Read their body language, tone and behavior to be genuinely concerned about the stressful mindset that they might be facing.
  • Take criticism well. To improvise on your emotional intelligence, learn to take critiques from anyone well. Instead of getting provoked or defensive, high EQ professionals take a few moments before responding to the given judgment. This will help solve problems, bad behavior from other members constructively.
  • Practice empathy. Do not overlook the problems of your team members as they are humans and not robots. Build coherent connections with others. Connect to your employees on the basic human level – emotional level. It will help you to be in your employees’ shoes faster and better during the hour of need.

Using all the above tactics, you can strengthen your emotional skills and deliver the project effectively and efficiently. 

Conclusion

Although people, resources, and stakeholders play a silent role in the job of delivering successful projects, they are the key drivers. Having the right balance of emotional intelligence does not make you weak, but it helps in making you a leader to whom everyone looks forward. Thus, you must take sincere efforts in involving your team and go out of your comfort zone to win the battle called ‘project management with emotional intelligence.’ 

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Kiran Bajpai is Marketing Associate at SoftwareSuggest. Her expertise lies in Software Analysis. She can never get bored of reading books, especially those related to History and Politics.

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