Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Project Managers
As per the international economic figures, there has been a significant and growing use of project management in the global economy (World Bank, 2005). For every organization to maintain sustainable competitive advantage, the organization's strategy must be reinforced, said M Porter in 1980. And the most common method to reinforce strategy is to work on projects. Organizations that excel in the use of projects may be more capable of responding to risk or opportunities.
This growing use of project management has created a demand for project managers. There has been a lot of debate over skills and competencies that a project manager should possess. It is a very recent trend that people have started considering emotional intelligence also to be important in order to evaluate a person. Earlier, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was considered to be the best indicator of how an individual person could perform in a work environment. Emotions were considered to be a hindrance to an individual’s success. The fact that project management comprises relationship development, team building, collaborating, influencing and negotiating in a complex work environment, has changed the value of emotional intelligence. Project Management is also about people management and it definitely needs an emotional touch.
It is very obvious that every project manager understands basic project management techniques and the content of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Most of them also get certified nowadays, since for many companies, it is a mandate. These are considered to be the pre-requisites of success. To reach to the level of a project manager, it is important to have the technical knowledge for sure. It is rightly mentioned by Anthony C. Mersino in his book ‘Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers’:
“in order to advance your career, you will need strong interpersonal skills or soft skills”.
Emotional Intelligence provides the framework for those interpersonal skills. Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others and of groups. It focuses on the aspects of intelligence that govern self-knowledge and social adaptation.
For every Project Manager, it is important to be able to do a set of jobs, which is guided mainly by the emotional intelligence, namely:
- Function in Complex matrix environments: As mentioned earlier also project manager needs to influence his/her team members, negotiate with clients and collaborate with various departments and teams. A project manager should be highly patient in dealing with people from various areas of work, get the required resources and understand what his level of dependency on another team is. This is mainly an act of relationship building, in order to get the best out of others, no matter how much ever complex the work environment is.
- Effective Team Building: As you all must have read in many other Project Management references, “People are a key to the success of any project”. Hence, a major deal here is people management. For a project manager, it is very important to be able to motivate the staff, managing conflicts between team members as well as conflict of situations. In short, a project manager needs to possess all skills that require the ability to understand people and their particular wants and needs.
- Manage change: No matter how much ever you plan your project, it is inevitable that there will be changes. Karen Davey, Project Manager for 20years, says: “building a technical solution is only one component of a project; understanding and managing the impact of that technical solution is critical.” Change affects the projects a lot and to be able to manage this change without affecting the final outcome is important.
- Provide leadership: The project manager is nothing but a leader to the people working on the project, the stakeholders and to all those people who support the project. Being a leader, the project manager needs to have strong decision making skills, ability to analyze a situation and look into its pros and cons. But most importantly, s/he needs to take decision, keeping in mind the impact of such a decision on the people. A good leader always takes decisions which are beneficial as well as non-taxing for his subordinates.
- Deliver Results: The end result of any project is the most important aspect. But simply being able to track a project plan is not enough to allow a project manager to be successful. It is important to understand his emotions, the emotions of others, and how those can be most effectively managed. This will ensure a project manager’s ability to deliver results.
In short, project managers work in a complex environment and it is extremely crucial for him/her to understand that it is not just technical skills which are needed. Relationships need to be built and maintained, as s/he is the leader who would motivate and be a support to the team. It is the emotional intelligence of a person which can be instrumental in proving him/her a successful project manager.
Chayanika is PR Associate Manager at Simplilearn.com. She has done M.Phil in Women’s Studies and is pursuing Phd in the same field. She handles the PR and marketing communication activities of the organization. She maintains cordial relations with the clients, potential clients, media, top management, and employees.