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Does your 'ideal project manager' look something like this?

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“Calm in all situations, even the biggest crisis. Thoughtful, and considerate and knows what will make those involved feel better about what is going on and what needs to be done. Gives the confidence and direction needed so that the team understands the urgency, gains the confidence that things will be sorted, and are inspired to help.”

The behaviours and emotions of project managers have long been considered important and the number of enquiries around the link to emotional intelligence are increasing. I believe that our behaviours and emotions are the key to the type of leaders that we can be.

We do know that studies have shown that people who handle their emotions and the emotions of others, those who have a high emotional intelligence, produce better results.

For me developing the elements of emotional intelligence is so very important if we aspire to move towards the picture of an ‘ideal’ project manager.

Here are some thoughts around the key elements of emotional intelligence.

1. Knowing personal emotions

Project managers may perform better if they are aware of how they react in different situations and interactions. Most people have some type of situation that makes them uncomfortable such as handling issues, delivering unexpected news or taking criticism. Being able to identify for themselves what emotions they are feeling in these situations, and the motivations behind them, gives them the knowledge they need to be able to overcome and manage them.

2. Self regulation – managing personal emotions

The ability to Knowing the emotions and the triggers and motivations behind them gives a project nanager the opportunity to redirect or control negative emotions, bad moods or impulses. Learning the skill of suspending judgement allows a project manager to think before taking action, reducing emotional ‘knee jerk’ reactions.

3. Self-motivation

Project managers who have an internal passion for achieving goals tend to be more focused on the end delivery. Working on short term tactical activities, without the horizon of the end goal can lead to projects using a lot of effort achieving short term results that end up being off track. This can demotivate a team. A project manager who uses the short term goals as stepping stones to the end objective and can communicate progress and motivate not only themselves but the wider team.

4. Recognising and understanding other people's emotions

Project managers who are trying to build positive relationships that are high performing can benefit from understanding the emotional drivers of those around them. Knowing whether putting on the pressure or being supportive is going to motivate action can be very powerful for a project manager.

5. Managing relationships

A project manager that is adept at finding common ground and building rapport can build productive relationships and networks that help them become a success. Good relationships build trust, which is a must for transparency.


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  1. Laura Taylor
    Laura Taylor 25 August 2015, 10:23 AM

    Thanks Eleri! Also worth a mention is the popular discussion sparked by this blog over in the APM LinkedIn group:"Do you value emotional intelligence as a key project management skill?" 

  2. Eleri Evans
    Eleri Evans 19 August 2015, 04:32 PM

    If this article has been of interest you may be interested in the People SIG research around Emotional Intelligence and Behaviours. The researchOur aim is to understand patterns within and between emotional intelligence and the behaviours of project managers and project professionals. This pilot study is focused on researching the RPP community and is led by the People SIG funded by the APM Volunteers Research Fund.