How emotional intelligence helps you become a better project leader
As project managers deal with people all the time, emotions become more important than logic or figures. That’s where you need high emotional intelligence. You may have already heard of “interpersonal skills” as essential to project management jobs. We’ll focus on emotional intelligence in this article and consider its influence on a project’s success.
What is emotional intelligence in project management?
Strengthening EQ can positively impact the ability to lead a project team. These skills can also assist with negotiation and conflict solving. Some may say there are good and bad emotions, and you shouldn’t rely on them at work. Yet, it’s not true as there is no such a gradation of emotions.
They are information for you to analyse and choose the most appropriate behaviour in the situation. Your task is to control emotional reactions. And emotional intelligence is all about achieving that.
EI refers to the ability to consciously control emotions to meet professional and personal needs. It doesn’t mean you should avoid confrontations and always agree with everything people involved in the project offer. You should be true to yourself, acknowledge the best decision, and deliver this information to others. You should help them discover and satisfy their specifically identified needs. Thus, EI is a must for building a productive team.
According to various studies, project managers with emotional intelligence are more effective than those without this talent in multiple tasks, such as:
- managing processes,
- engaging stakeholders,
- avoiding scope creep, which are changes to the required work on the project,
- effectively employing resources.
Self-awareness denotes the ability to understand emotions, likes, dislikes, and motivators. Comprehending emotions is the first step toward controlling them. And a leader should name and acknowledge their feelings. These emotions then determine our response, so self-awareness is about taking responsibility. For example, you may feel frustrated when a developer doesn’t finish the task in time or when chief executives cut the budget.
Self-regulation or self-management is the skill of controlling feelings and thinking before acting or speaking. Projects involve much stress and anxiety. Suppose you experience much external pressure and want to react negatively when something goes out of the plan. That’s where you need this quality to show confidence to the team and make them follow you. Self-regulation doesn’t involve self-control alone. It also means the willpower to push through difficult, unpleasant, or uncomfortable situations.
Emotional intelligence also entails the desire to work towards a quality result no matter what. That’s what motivation means. You should use emotions to achieve a specific objective, including:
- desire to succeed rather than give up in challenging situations;
- committing to a cause, such as the willingness to sacrifice time and ease when opting for demanding duties;
- taking the initiative, that is, the ability to make decisions without another person;
- remaining positive in tough times, overcoming concerns, and flexibly utilising resources to regain control.
Empathetic leadership is a trait of high EI. Such managers understand others, their emotions, and their motivation. It’s crucial in project management since it guarantees the final product satisfies stakeholders’ expectations. Interactions with the team and colleagues should also reflect empathy. Consider how you may help them grow their skills in a way that will enable them to achieve their unique career objectives.
5. Social skills
You will need to communicate with individuals regularly when working on a project, including:
- team members and co-workers,
- clients and users,
- providers of goods and services,
- consultants and contractors,
- sponsors and leaders.
- establishing, fostering, and sustaining relationships,
- choosing the appropriate communication pattern,
- team building,
- conflict resolution,
- convincing and influencing.
Benefits of high EI for project leaders
Improved teamwork between members.
The ability to identify and respond to emotions helps you make informed decisions. For example, you can spot a problem by detecting unusual behaviour of your colleague, such as when a typically talkative team member remains silent during a meeting. Your emotional intelligence can hint at a possible issue within a team and act before it affects the project.
EI is crucial for engagement and task completion. You can lead and encourage others, facilitate communication, and motivate others to realise the project’s objective. You can prevent fatigue, boredom, and conflicts, leading to better project performance. As a result, people feel inspired to work on a project and are interested in what they do.
Making you a better professional.
Having a high EI is one of the ways to set you apart in the highly-competitive job market. You may possess all the required skills and experience for the role. But that’s what the other five specialists may have. How should a recruiter decide on all these candidates? They evaluate employees’ EI. By showing the capability to control, understand, and use emotions, you can get the desired job and prove you’re not just a good but perfect leader.
Five tips on raising Emotional Intelligence for a project leader
1. Take time to respond
You don’t have to make immediate decisions. Put a pause between a stimulus and a reaction. Become a thoughtful leader by taking the time to determine the best reaction. Think, feel, control, and proceed wisely to improve the chances of effective communication and a better result.
2. Reflect on your reactions
Besides controlling reactions, you should also evaluate your behaviour in different cases. Are you satisfied with how you dealt with the situation in the past? What would you do differently to handle the problem? Consider how another reaction might have impacted the outcome.
For this purpose, you may create a private folder on the cloud or computer to write everything down. This record can show the relationship between emotions and their cause to be prepared for similar situations in the future. Another good piece of advice is to ask for feedback from colleagues and employers. They may provide leadership evaluation or 360-degree feedback.
3. Be empathetic
How simple is it for you to imagine yourself in another person’s position? Instead of judging others, take a step back and return with an empathetic reply. If you understand what’s going on, it’s easier for you to stop fighting, even in the most heated argument. And that’s one of the traits of emotional intelligence. Think of how you would feel or react in someone’s place and support them.
4. Take responsibility
A sign of low emotional intelligence or its absence is the desire to blame others for the mistakes or the project’s failure. Emotionally intelligent people and leaders never find a victim to shame. They can manage unexpected faults and inspire others to stay motivated.
5. Notice sensations in your body
Do you feel tightness in the chest? Or maybe you want to change the position? Or something tells you not to take a particular action (known as a gut feeling)? Notice the process in your body to search for the reasons for having them.
The ability to change your and others’ behaviour will increase as you become more conscious of what you are doing and how other people are responding to your management style. Building workplaces that value people as individuals rather than just “project resources” is something we can all work toward.