In project management, leadership is key. The perfect leader keeps a calm head, no matter what obstructions he or she faces. The perfect leader listens to those she manages and those who manage her. She keeps an open mind on her project management framework, and consistently accepts the need for improvement.
These leadership qualities are all encompassed within a high level of emotional intelligence.
What Exactly Is Emotional Intelligence?
EI means being aware of your emotions and having the ability to manage those emotions well. It also involves an awareness of the emotions of those around you. Those with a high emotional intelligence level understand their emotions, understand the meaning of those emotions and the effect those emotions can have on others around them.
How Is Emotional Intelligence Important In Leadership?
There are several ways emotional intelligence is important in leadership. A good degree of self-awareness is key, so that you understand the emotions you are experiencing and how they will affect those around you. Most importantly it means having the ability to not only understand, but accept that you have not only strengths, but weaknesses as well.
Self regulation is another key factor of emotional intelligence in leadership. You might understand your emotions, but can you manage them? Being able to stay in control is so important in project management, perhaps more important that any particular method you may have studied. Being overcome with negative emotions means you have the power to bring even the strongest project down, and to push even the most loyal and understanding associate away from you. A leader with excellent self regulation is able to refrain from verbally attacking colleagues, avoid rushing decisions without consideration, refrain from judging others and able to make key compromises when necessary.
Empathy is a critical part of emotional intelligence in leaders because, if you don’t recognise others and how others feel, you aren’t truly a team player. Project management training in methods such as APMP, PMP or PRINCE2 enables us to understand various ways to communicate with others, but only those with excellent levels of empathy can put themselves in another’s shoes, and therefore learn how to communicate with them effectively.
And potentially the most important EI factor of all – motivation is a key EI leadership quality that truly drives a person to succeed in project management. Having strong self-motivation means consistently striving to reach your goals and go above and beyond the call of duty.
Having these excellent emotional intelligence skills means having excellent leadership skills, there is no getting around it. Project management training courses teach us how to apply methodology, but cannot provide anyone with the vital emotional intelligence skills needed to apply that methodology in a real working environment with real people.
An effective leader must fully understand their emotions in order to succeed. A degree of self-reflection and honesty is needed in order to achieve a high degree of emotional intelligence, but it’s a completely worthwhile journey if you want to succeed in project management.