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OPINION

Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

The business environment including projects is becoming more demanding and complex. Although technical skills are an important asset for a project manager, soft or human side of management have been found to play a critical role in the professional environment. More and more has been proven through experience that the management of the Emotional Intelligence is a critical success factor in project completion.

A definition of Emotional Intelligent is ‘to be aware, control and express one's emotions and those of others and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically’.

In this sense, Emotional Intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success. One of the most important aspect of the project manager’s everyday tasks is communication and stakeholder management. Proven results revealed that many projects have failed due to communication issues and lack of effective people management.  

Project Managers are called to demonstrate leadership in complex and multicultural environments. They must be able to manage resources, promote teamwork, resolve conflicts, motivate and inspire teams. Emotional Intelligence is a valuable tool to acquire all the above project management capabilities and skills.

Emotional Intelligence competencies can be significantly developed in adults through training and most importantly through self-actualization and practice.

1. Have Self-Awareness, understanding our emotions 
Project Managers and leaders must practice mindfulness. Understanding first their own emotions as it is through them that will acquire and practice the below self-disciplines.
Be Humble – Humility is not a weakness it is a strength. It is a characteristic of individual self-awareness and lack of insecurity. To admit one’s own mistakes, to admire other people’s ideas and achievements are characteristics of a leader. 
Be Respectful – Acknowledgement and appraisal is an everyday practice that grateful project managers demonstrate to motivate teams. 
Be Transparent- Managing a project being open and sharing relevant information, project managers earn the trust of stakeholders by establishing an honest relation, thus mitigating the risk of hidden agendas.
Be Ethical – Ethics are part of core skills of modern project management. Project managers who manage to take moral decision making based on ethic codes are well respected and trusted by all stakeholders and inspire teams. 
 
2. Understanding other people’s emotions
A project manager and leader who practices the above disciplines is in the strong position to be empathetic. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Emotional intelligence and empathy in projects promote team effectiveness as it is proven that emotional states of employees influence their performance. In general stakeholders’ emotions are managed so that they impact a project positively. 
Low Emotional Intelligent Project Managers are: Egoistical, Bossy, Poor Listeners, Selfish, Passive, Un-responsive, Stubborn, Slow, Critical and Hard to Please. 
High Emotional Intelligent Project Managers and Leaders are: Assertive, Strong Willed, Decisive, Warm, Enthusiastic, Sociable, Charming, Persuasive, Consistent, Good Listeners, Detailed, Systematic and Supportive. 
 
Emotionally intelligent leaders are great to work with because they make others feel good!

 

Alexia Gerolemou is a Project Management Professional (PMP®) and holds a postgraduate MBA degree and a BA (Hons) in Public Relations. She is a founder member and VP on the Board of Directors of the PMI Cyprus Chapter.

She embarked her professional career in the aviation industry refining her leadership, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal skills. Following that, she entered the Business Services and Information Technology Industry, during which valuable experience in the project management field and proposal management of both public and private sectors projects was gained.  

Additionally, specialized expertise was obtained in the HealthCare Sector as a HealthCare Consultant.  Alexia has been leading PMOs for over 8 years in both international and local organizations.  Furthermore, she is an experienced compliance professional in the Financial Sector, regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

Motivated by her spirit of contributing to other people and society, apart from PMI she is also a volunteer in Cyprus Civil Defense as a trainer for more than 15 years.  The driving force behind her professional and voluntary work is her belief and practice of grateful leadership and soft skills with emphasis on Emotional Intelligence, Empathy and Ethics.

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