Emotional Intelligence and Project Manager

PMAs you may know, PARR has a sister company in RJSL Group, an IT and business PMO consulting shop.  I’ve been a project manager (PM) since my Diamond Technology Partners days, and I believe good PM skill-set is a must for any manager, regardless of his or her corporate function.  Over the years, I’ve also learned that especially when it comes to PM, emotional intelligence (EI) is more important than either intellectual abilities or any specialized, functional trainings combined.  EI separates great PM from good ones and can be defined as the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goals.  According to many experts, major skills that make up EI are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

So, how does a PM use EI?  First, project management by nature entails a highly collaborative undertaking, often extending the scope beyond prescribed boundaries.  One of the key skill-set for a great PM is the ability to influence stakeholders globally.  More specifically, project’s success depends on the PM’s ability to influence and persuade team members and stakeholders, who often do not report directly to the project owner and have very different agenda, on numerous behavioral and emotional levels.  No matter how you slice it, this requires a large degree of EI on the part of the PM.  Second, every project introduces some degree of organizational changes in order to achieve a desired outcome. The impact of change on those who are affected can be championed or rejected based on the project manager’s leadership, prompting the PM to serve as an emotional guide throughout the process.  PMs often make on-the-fly adjustments to build and maintain positive relationships while motivating and focusing others to achieve success.

As all PMs know, the ability to develop and sustain relationships leads to successful project results. Understanding EI and honing our own EI provides an invaluable edge in building the relationships necessary to excel within the project management profession.


About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (www.SMBmatters.com); following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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