Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Project Managers


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This presentation comes to you from International Project Management Day 2013 - the annual global virtual summit from IIL that brings together business and technology leaders from around the world to discuss the latest trends and methods in business, leadership and communications. To view the accompanying video keynotes and presentations connect to the event here bit.ly/1blJSkE or purchase the DVD collection http://bit.ly/1fZ9Yc0

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  • There are several definitions of emotional intelligence out there. I like this one because it references the business aspect of EI. The aspect of managing people, specifically managing teams, relates to us as project managers.
  • Regardless of the definition you use, emotional intelligence entailsSelf awarenessSelf managementSocial awareness and Social skillIn this presentation we will look at each of those four aspects a bit closer and then I will talk about ways that you can increase your emotional intelligence.
  • Before we talk about the four aspects of emotional intelligence, I’ll tell you a little bit about why it is important.When we talk about intelligence we tend to think about IQ and cognitive abilities. We generally think that those who are successful in high-level jobs have a higher IQ and well-developed technical skills in their field. But we don’t often think about the ability of high-level managers to identify and manage their emotions, or their ability to perceive and work with the emotions of their employees. Your ability to have good relationships with others gets you farther in business and in your personal life than your IQ. It’s not how smart you are that counts, but rather how you are smart. In the Johnson and Johnson company they did a study and found that in divisions around the world, those identified at mid-career as having high leadership potential were far stronger in EI competencies than were their less-promising peers. However, research has shown that IQ and technical skills are threshold capabilities for successful executives. That means that you can’t get to that level without being reasonably intelligent and having excellent technical skills in your field. The discriminating factor in what makes someone successful at the higher levels of management, however, is their emotional intelligence, not their cognitive abilities or their technical skills. It is their self-awareness and management, and their social awareness and skills.In fact, in an article in the Harvard Business Review by Daniel Goleman, the higher a person rises in an organization, the more important emotional intelligence becomes. In senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in successful leaders is attributable to emotional intelligence factors rather than cognitive ones.
  • Now let’s talk about the four EI components. The first component is self-awareness. The first step in self awareness is recognizing and understanding your moods and emotions and how they impact you, your job performance and your team members.
  • Let’s take an example we all face when managing projects – tight deadlines. How do you respond to tight deadlines?Do you start to blame others for the unreasonable deadline?Do you get up tight and terse? Do you micro manage your team members?Do you throw your hands up and say there is no way you are going to be able to meet the deadline?Do you reach out to your team members for help?Do you get emotional? or do you shut down your emotions?All of these options are common ways that we respond to tight deadlines. Knowing how you are likely to respond can help you manage your response to make sure it is appropriate and helpful to the situation. We’ll talk about managing our emotions a little bit later – let’s look at how you can develop self awareness.
  • To become more self aware you should conduct a realistic self assessment. Identify your values and the factors that motivate you. For example, Is influence more important to you than salary?Is reputation more important than title? Is delivering on time more important than having your team members like you?These types of questions reveal your values and your motivations. You can also ask questions about your behaviors, such as:Does a tight deadline at work effect your home life?Does a problem at home impact the way you behave at work?What stresses you out at work? What makes you feel good at work? Now let’s move on to the second component of Emotional Intelligence - Self Management.
  • Self management is also referred to as self regulation.
  • Self management helps establish trustworthiness because your team members and stakeholders can trust you to act with integrity and in alignment with your values and principles. It takes self awareness to identify your values – but it takes self management to to behave consistent with them, especially in stressful situations. For example, if the aforementioned due date was overly aggressive and you missed the deadline, your team can trust you to behave professionally, explain the reason for missing the deadline and what you are going to do about it. They trust that you won’t blame them or make someone a scapegoat for the situation. They also trust you not to behave irrationally or emotionally.
  • If there are two constants in project management – it’s change and uncertainty! Self knowledge helps us understand how we react to change, but self management helps us override our first reaction and think through the most productive way to approach changes, issues and risks on our projects. For some of us dealing with constant change and uncertainty makes us anxious and nervous. Others of us get excited about the prospect of something new. Still others get upset because nothing ever stands still. All of these are valid feelings, but how we handle them, and how we act is what sets apart the best project leaders from the rest of the pack.
  • The amygdala is the portion of the brain that processes emotional memories. When we are significantly stressed the amygdala can hi jack or take over the higher functioning areas of our brain and create an emotional response. So even though we aren’t in a fight, flight or freeze situation where our life is at stake, like it was thousands of years ago, the amygdala still reacts to the work stress triggers as if we are.
  • In his bookthe Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, Daniel Goleman cites these top five emotional triggers in the work place. These situations trigger our innate fight, flight or freeze response. This is where self management comes in to play. It is the ability to override our emotional response to condescension, or being treated unfairly or being subject to unrealistic expectations. You can see how responding calmly in these situations can build trust and confidence from your team members and management.
  • Speaking of team members and management, let’s take a look at our social awareness.Social awareness is sometimes referred to asempathy.
  • Social Awareness has three aspects:Awareness of how others feelAbility to read non-verbal cuesEmpathyConsidering a single team member’s feelings is not so difficult, but things get much more challenging when you have a team of eight or ten people. Everyone has their own points of view and there may be alliances and hidden agendas. Your role is to make sense of and understand what is going on with everyone so you can effectively lead the team to consensus. No wonder leading a team can seem so challenging sometimes!
  • Awareness of how others feel includes both cognitive and emotional awareness. Cognitive awareness is the ability to understand how another person sees events and the world. For example, a person who comes from a military background is more prone to want to understand the ‘mission’ or objective of the project, report on the facts and respect position authority. Someone with a background in social services might be focused on how people feel and whether everyone is being included in a conversation. Both viewpoints are valid, but they are different. The socially aware project leader recognizes the difference in how different team members and stakeholdersinterpret the environment. Emotional awareness is an ability to understand how another person feels. The above-mentioned military person might not have many feelings attached to receiving constructive feedback on a deliverable, even if it is given in a perfunctory and clipped tone of voice. The same style of feedback given to a more ‘sensitive’ person could cause them to feel rejected or hurt or not good enough. For such a person, the socially skilled project manager may want to provide that feedback in a softer tone of voice with some explanation of why the feedback is necessary and how other aspects of their performance is really great.
  • Social awareness is also what allows you to understand what is going on behind the words. It includes tuning into a person’s tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. The majority of emotional communication takes place in non-verbal language, such as a smile, a frown, loud or soft volume, open or closed posture and so forth.Let’s say you are in a team meeting and you are asking for the status on a deliverable from Ray. He looks down and mumbles something about being 90% complete and just needing to resolve a small connector issue. His boss, Robin, is also at the meeting. When she hears this her eyebrows shoot up and his eyes widen. He stares at Ray and his lips get thinner. Now if you weren’t paying attention to all the non-verbal cues you might overlook what is happening here. Ray’s avoidance behavior, such as not looking at you and mumbling indicate that there is a bigger issue than he is letting on. It is evident from Robin’s reaction that he didn’t know there was an issue and he is unhappy that this is the first he has heard about it. By being aware of the bigger picture that the non-verbal cues are communicating you can determine the best path forward for this situation.
  • Empathic concern or sympathy is another aspect of social awareness. This can include reflecting back the emotion someone is feeling and putting oneself in their shoes to understand what they are going through.
  • Each of these emotions has distinct facial cues. For example: Disgust shows up on our face as the eyebrows down, nose wrinkled, upper lip pulled up and the lips loose. Anger is shown by the eyebrows pulled down, upper lids pulled up, lower lids pulled up, lips pulled in and tightened.
  • Social skill is the culmination of the other dimensions of emotional intelligence. The more effective you can be at understanding and managing yourself, the more effective you will be in empathizing with others and thus building relationships, rapport and loyalty.
  • An important aspect of social skills is the ability to build rapport. In this context, rapport means building a harmonious and sympathetic connection with others. Leadership depends on relationship-building. A socially skilled person will have a knack for finding common ground with people of all kinds, and building relationships with them. Socially skilled people are good at leading teams and they generally have a wide variety of friends and acquaintances at work and in their personal lives.
  • Leaders of any kind, including project leaders, need to manage relationships effectively. A project leader can only lead through her ability to build relationships between team members, functional managers, sponsors, customers, and other stakeholders. After all, the project leader’s job is to get work done through other people, and social skill makes that possible. Social skill allows project leaders to put their emotional intelligence to work.
  • If you can answer yes to these four statements, you are in good shape. However if you find areas where you need a little improvement, don’t worry, you can increase your emotional intelligence, develop empathy and improve your social skills. The next few slides have some tips to help you get started.
  • To enhance emotional intelligence, you need to focus on breaking old behavioral habits and establishing new ones. For example, if you are in a situation where your emotions take over your behavior in a way that you are not happy with, take some time to reflect on what was going on inside your head. See if you can remember what your inner dialogue was saying that impacted your feelings and mood. If you can recognize the influences that caused you to behave a certain way, you can manage them better in the future. Try these four steps next time you are situation that requires you to manage your emotions.Make sure to go easy on yourself. Learning new behaviors takes time. You are creating new habits. Make sure to congratulate yourself when you behave more productively in the future. A little positive self-talk always helps! Remember to have empathy for yourself as well as others. The good news is that emotional intelligence tends to increase with age. Sometimes we call this maturity, sometimes the school of hard knocks, but we do learn.
  • If this presentation was interesting to you and you want to learn more – here are some websites that I found helpful in understanding more about my personal emotional intelligence. I dedicated a chapter to emotional intelligence in my book on leadership. If you want to read more about leadership, feel free to check out my book.
  • Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Project Managers

    1. 1. Why Emotional Intelligence is Important for Project Managers Cynthia Snyder, MBA, PMP, EVP ©2013 International Institute for Learning, Inc., All rights reserved.
    2. 2. What is Emotional Intelligence? Awareness of one’s own emotions and moods and those of others, especially in managing people. Collins English Dictionary
    3. 3. Four Aspects of Emotional Intelligence Self Awareness Self Management EI Social Awareness Daniel Goleman on Leadership and the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Forbes, 2011 Social Skill
    4. 4. Why EI is Important Emotional intelligence is the critical distinction between great leaders and people that have risen in the hierarchy based on their position. Daniel Goleman. What Makes a Leader. Harvard Business Review, 2004.
    5. 5. Self Awareness (1 of 3) Self awareness is the ability to recognize and monitor our thoughts and feelings. Self Awareness Self Management EI Social Awareness Social Skill Daniel Goleman on Leadership and the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Forbes, 2011
    6. 6. Self Awareness (2 of 3) Recognize your moods and emotions Conduct a realistic self assessment
    7. 7. Self Awareness (3 of 3) Recognize your moods and emotions Conduct a realistic self assessment
    8. 8. Self Management (1 of 4) Self management is the ability to think before acting. It entails suspending snap judgments and impulsive decisions and choices. Self Awareness Self Management EI Social Awareness Social Skill Daniel Goleman on Leadership and the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Forbes, 2011
    9. 9. Self Management (2 of 4) Trustworthiness Ability to handle change and uncertainty
    10. 10. Self Management (3 of 4) Trustworthiness Ability to handle change and uncertainty
    11. 11. Self Management (4 of 4) 1. Fight 2. Flight 3. Freeze
    12. 12. Work Stressors 1. Condescension and lack of respect 2. Being treated unfairly 3. Lack of appreciation 4. Believing you are not being listened to 5. Being held to unrealistic expectations
    13. 13. Social Awareness (1 of 6) Social awareness is the state of being aware of the emotional condition of others. Self Awareness Self Management EI Social Awareness Social Skill Daniel Goleman on Leadership and the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Forbes, 2011
    14. 14. Social Awareness (2 of 6) 1. Awareness of how others feel 2. Ability to read non-verbal cues 3. Empathy
    15. 15. Social Awareness (3 of 6) 1. Awareness of how others feel 2. Ability to read non-verbal cues 3. Empathy
    16. 16. Social Awareness (4 of 6) 1. Awareness of how others feel 2. Ability to read non-verbal cues 3. Empathy
    17. 17. Social Awareness (5 of 6) 1. Awareness of how others feel 2. Ability to read non-verbal cues 3. Empathy
    18. 18. Social Awareness (6 of 6) There are seven universal emotions: Joy Sadness Anger Contempt Disgust Fear Surprise
    19. 19. Social Skill (1 of 3) Social skill is about managing groups of people, such as project teams, building social networks, finding common ground with various stakeholders, and building rapport. Self Awareness Self Management EI Social Awareness Social Skill Daniel Goleman on Leadership and the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Forbes, 2011
    20. 20. Social Skill (2 of 3) Build rapport and relationships Effective in building and managing groups
    21. 21. Social Skill (3 of 3) Build rapport and relationships Effective in building and managing groups
    22. 22. The Emotionally Intelligent Leader I recognize my emotions. I manage my responses to my emotions. I am aware of others’ emotions, body language, and tonality. I build rapport with people and can lead teams in productive behavior.
    23. 23. Increasing Emotional Intelligence 1. Identify the people, situations, or events that triggered your emotional reaction. 2. Reflect on the triggers and learn to recognize them. 3. Determine appropriate responses for each trigger. 4. Talk to yourself about how you will react to a similar situation in the future. You can even visualize the event happening with a new outcome.
    24. 24. Developing Social Awareness 1. Focus on a person’s body language, gestures, and tone of voice. 2. If you see someone who is saying one thing, but his body language and tone are saying another, take a moment and check in with him. 3. Ask him how he is doing or if there is anything going on that is distracting or bothering him.
    25. 25. Improving Social Skills 1. Give everyone you talk to your full attention without distractions. 2. Ignore your phone, messages, texts, and other distractions, and focus on the person you are with. 3. Make eye contact. 4. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues and make sure you maintain an open and attentive posture.
    26. 26. Tools You Can Explore http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ei_quiz http://personality-testing.info/tests/EI.php www.queendom.com/tests/ Manage to Lead: Flexing Your Leadership Style. Project Management Institute, 2012.
    27. 27. Questions?
    28. 28. Intelligence – Integrity – Innovation We invite you to take a closer look at what we can accomplish together. Please visit iil.com or contact learning@iil.com to learn more about our training, consulting, coaching, customized courses and other pathways for professional development. Connect with Us: facebook.com/IIL.Inc @IILGlobal bit.ly/IILlinkedin ©2013 International Institute for Learning, Inc., All rights reserved. bit.ly/IILgoogle youtube.com/IILGlobal allpm.com