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The Unified Project Management Dictionary


A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, result, or combination of the three. - PMBOK 6th

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Emotional Intellegence for Project Managers

‘Our Emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you’.

  • Anonymous



Business globally, has undergone a radical transformation in last 100 years and is expected to grow at an even faster pace. The speed at which it has travelled in the last 30 years and the estimate at which it is going to move is beyond business pundit’s forecast. The World, in its true sense, has become a Global village wherein the identity of each Nation has diluted. We are witnessing an era where the political, cultural, social, technological and geographical boundaries are collapsing.

People across the globe are moving to new geographies (markets) and places where they feel they have got better opportunities for employment or business. In recent years, technology also has played a vital role in transforming the business, be it traditional or modern. The increased use of internet and availability of data or information in an organized form has helped business to take decisions rapidly which was not possible historically.

Today, there are numerous opportunities for people and organizations to conduct business in various sectors, industries and geographies.


Change in business practices and culture has a corresponding impact on Project Management domain as well. Traditional business models have changed rapidly with technology getting embedded in core business. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has resulted in increased efficiencies. The expectations of Customer are to reduce turnaround time and to deliver new products quickly. To understand Consumer’s tastes and preferences the need is to have uninterrupted, seamless and proactive communication. All this has to be achieved in VUCA environment (Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity).

The key mantra for success is delivering sustainable value.



The challenge from Business and Technology has made Project Management domain more vibrant. The role of Project Manager has become more demanding than ever before. These days the Project Managers are expected to respond and take decisions on fly.

Apart from traditional Project Management skills (Technical, Strategic Business Management and Leadership) a Project Managers need to focus on Continuous improvement, Innovation, Strategic alignment, Effective Stakeholder communication, Change management, Quick decision making and good understanding of Human dynamics to name a few.

Managers today have responsibility not only to transform themselves but to ensure their entire environment moves in same direction. Project Managers are seen as Transform agents and the top leaders of future.


In today’s environment, most of the tasks that are performed by a Project Manager are done manually. The technology in the form of software, data and spreadsheets does help a Project Manager to perform his tasks efficiently. However, a key element of a Project Manager’s job is decision making that cannot be separated.

As the use of Artificial Intelligence gets increased reducing manual intervention and most of the data that is fed and gets available for decision making there is an increased speculation that a BOTs may replace a Human Project Manager in near future.  While this could be interesting to see and one cannot argue on its efficiency, accuracy and ability to take a decision without prejudices. This could be an argument that comes as advantage for BOTs over a Human Project Manager.

However, even a BOT may have its limitations and may not be able to entirely perform job of a Project Manager like coaching and mentoring teams, problem solving, crisis management, conflict management, out of box thinking, innovative ideas, customer collaboration  and Stakeholder engagement to name a few. A Project Manager can also give strategic inputs to the organization that could be a limiting factor for a BOT.



What do you think Business leaders like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch and Indra Nooyi have in common apart from highly successful and inspirational careers? The answer is ‘They all have high degree of Emotional Intelligence’.

Some of the common traits these leaders have are: easy accessibility, humble nature, great interpersonal skills, trustworthy and ability to stay calm in difficult and challenging situations.   

Emotional Intelligence is an essential element of success for a Leader.


Amazon, Xerox, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are few Organizations globally who are following Emotional Intelligence at their workplace. From Traditional Organizational structures to embracing of Emotional Intelligence may not be a smooth ride for many. However, many survey results show that benefits of adapting Emotional Intelligence has enormous benefits attached to it.

An Organization that has its employees with high degree of Emotional Intelligence are highly motivated, have higher percentage of employee satisfaction, less employee turnover, are customer focused and are aligned with Organization’s objectives.  


Hard skills are important for any job profile or individual but it is equally important to have soft skills. While the hard skills like technical training etc. can be acquired through formal training or learning the soft skills like interpersonal skills, team management and leadership as such cannot be taught but one has to cultivate it with his/her own efforts. Individuals have to consciously nurture and hone these qualities like humility, self-awareness, emotional stability, establishing integrity and empathy over a period of time.

Both, Hard and soft skills are necessary and have to complement each other for success in a managerial role.


Empathy is the essential building block for compassion. We have to sense what another person is going through, what they are feeling, in order to spark compassion in us.

  • Daniel Goleman


Human element in any business or domain is hard to separate and has complex behavioral pattern. In today’s fast paced World, Managers have to take quick decisions in an ambiguous environment.  A Manager therefore needs to have greater emotional stability, have confidence in people’s capabilities, delegate authority and create an environment of trust. This can be achieved through empathy and today is considered as one of the top skills a leader must possess.

With ‘People first culture’ the key focus of a Leader is to create high performance delivering team.


Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you.


  1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses and to identify your emotions and the impact it has on team’s performance. Self-awareness can be assessed by multiple models and one of the popular one that is used is a 360 Degree feedback in which inputs are taken from your direct reports, peers, managers and various other Stakeholders.  Another model of Self-awareness is Johari Window.  Both these models, apart from various others, help to identify one’s behavior and to work on improving certain areas, if required.

As a Project Manager, in order to get the best from your team, you first need to get best out of yourself.

  1. Self-Management

Self-management refers to one’s own capability to control his/ her emotions, in a challenging and stressful situation. In today’s dynamic environment managers often get into unexpected situations. This calls for a careful analysis of situation and to respond to it than react to it. Managers with better Emotional Intelligence are the one who are in control of their emotions during stressing time and take rational decisions evaluating all necessary criteria.  

As a Leader, a Project Manager has to maintain a positive outlook during adverse situations.

  1. Social Awareness

One of the important aspects a Project Manager is to recognize and control your own emotions but also should be able to recognize the emotions of others around him. Successful Project Managers are the ones who master social awareness. Ability to listen to and understand the feelings of your team helps you to communicate, collaborate and develop a trust based relationship across cross functional teams in your organization.

4. Relationship Management

As a Project Manager, one needs to have a wider acceptability across the teams and functional departments. It also focuses on one’s skill to guide, coach, mentor and influence the team and peers. As a Project Manager one needs to have constant dialogue and communication with his team. Managers who have seamless communication with their teams are much more preferred and their subordinates have better job satisfaction ratings

Relationship Management skill can come handy in situation of conflict management and crisis that could require coordination across multiple teams.


The term Emotional Intelligence was coined in the Year 1990 by Peter Salovery and John D. Mayer that described it as ‘a form of social intelligence’. Since then it has evolved rapidly especially in last decade and now there are many organizations that are changing their traditional hierarchical models and structures and are adapting Emotional Intelligence for their people.

The role of Top Leadership is the differentiating factor to drive Emotional Intelligence in their Organization. This can be appreciated from the fact that an organization like Amazon also did have to struggle initially to get this accepted by its people. Jeff Bozos had to overcome some challenges in the year 2015 on its journey. Leaders are the driving force of any organization and they have to see the landscape much ahead than others. They have to have a vision and have to align the people to achieve it. The transformation of an organization is a part of Change management process and has to be dealt with delicately.

While one can have the best of technical skills required for performing a job, but it is of no use if you can’t create an atmosphere of trust and develop relationships with people around you.  The most effective Leaders today are not the ones who have best technical skills but those who have a high degree of Emotional Intelligence.


Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Yateen Sagdeo