Why is Emotional Intelligence Important for Project Managers?

The project management literature shows a shift from a technical focus to a people focus in recent years, and a critical dimension considered to be associated with the success of the projects is the personal competencies of project managers. More recently, Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been suggested as a unique area of individual differences that is likely to underpin project managers’ behaviors associated with the success of the projects. Project managers who master EI will set themselves apart from other project managers. 

The definition of EI coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990 was “ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”. After the publication of “Emotional Intelligence” by Dale Goleman in 1995, there have been numerous contributions to the discussion on EI. This article addresses the indispensability of EI in the role of project managers. To master 5 factors of Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers, enroll in our course now for more detailed information and earn 8.25 PDUs of Leadership to renew your PMP® certification.

EI should be considered a critical factor for the success of project managers along with other business skills, such as scheduling, defining scopes, budgeting and tracking quality, etc. The reason is that EI helps project managers to:

- Operate in complex matrix environments. The role of a project manager is to cooperate with other departments and teams for resources. The competence of building a relationship and understanding how to make the most of one’s abilities is essential for the effectiveness of a project manager in a matrix environment.

- Build efficient teams. People are the cornerstone of a project, so a project manager needs to motivate their staff and build strong teams and manage conflict. All of the skills that require the ability to see people and understand their particular wants and needs.

- Provide leadership. It is necessary for a project manager to provide leadership to the staff, stakeholders, and any groups that may be involved in the project. Decision-making skill based on the understanding of the people is also a major aspect of leadership.

- Deliver results. The complex matrix environment and the intensive degree of collaboration in a project are unprecedented. Therefore, being able to track a project plan cannot guarantee the result of a project. Instead, understanding one’s own emotions and those of others can play a crucial role in the ability of a project manager to deliver results.

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