Emotional Intelligence in Project Management (by Arman)
Humans, as the most prominent primates, are significantly emotional beings.
When something deeply affects us, it triggers a variety of emotions in us. When leaders want to create a common cohesion among the people and mobilize them to achieve something, they try to bring up the relevant “emotions” in the crowd.
Throughout our daily activities, we are driven – with a variety of levels of influence - by “how we feel” about something and “how we feel” can affect our performance and our experience and our opinion of the outcomes.
Emotions are extremely important as they can motivate, energize and put-in-motion people, but can also cloud their judgement and derail their logical thinking ability.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is one’s ability to monitor emotions (ours and other people) and the skill to utilize (or regulate) that to direct how things are going at human level.
Regardless of what methodology is being used to manage the work and delivery of value (Agile or Waterfall or anywhere in between, which most enterprise are), for as long as we work as a team of humans, our success in mobilizing and motivating the members into a coordinated, well-performing delivery pipeline, highly depends on our Emotional Intelligence maturity and management skillset.
Scrum Master, Project Manager, Squad Leader or whatever hat we wear in our daily activities, would need to be accompanied and enriched by our in-depth care, understanding and ability to nurture and empower team’s emotions to higher, more positive levels on an upward developing slope.
Emotional Intelligence, despite the importance of emotions in people’s performance and behavior, is a rather young subject and its roots can be traced back to no earlier than mid-1960s when it was introduced through a paper by Michael Beldoch.
The first model of Emotional Intelligence management was introduced in 1989 by Stanley Greenspan. That model was later enhanced by Peter Salovey and John Mayer and the evolutionary work continued till we got to Daniel Goleman who is considered the most prominent researchers and scholar on the topic, as recognized by Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and other research publications.
Emotional Intelligence is mostly referred to as “EQ” – which would be abbreviation of “Emotional Quotient” – seemingly borrowed from “IQ”. It seems using “EI” did not resonate well enough among the researchers.
Why is emotional intelligence important to us as Project Managers or Agile Practitioner?
It’s important because all our effort is focused on working a team of humans towards success delivery of an initiative. Humans are the indispensable factor to our success story.
Research shows that close to 60% of this success is rooted in our strength in Emotional Intelligence and how we can utilize that to motives the team, synchronize their efforts and get them to own the work toward a great delivery.
As a PM or Scrum Master, over 90% of our work is through communication to others and our level of EQ maps to our strength in communications.
How does EQ reflect in key areas of Project Management?
Short answer: Everywhere!
Let’s look at some of the key areas:
- Scope Management:EQ helps the stakeholders and the project team to feel included and engaged. This feeling leads to their ownership of the scope and the effort required in its delivery. EQ would reduce the common feeling of being pushed to do the work, which otherwise could cause an incremental buildup of resentment toward PM and the Project.
- Time Management:EQ motivates and energizes the team members, which would then reflect in their higher performance, better timing in delivery and reduces the feeling of schedule pressure by the team. Even if due to some external factors, the team gets time-compressed to deliver a part ahead of time, their sense of ownership and the good feeling they have towards achieving the goal will lighten up the mood and help the team to focus and push for delivery.
- Quality Management:EQ raises the quality of delivered work through building the sense of ownership in the team. It also reduces the errors and defects in the product which in turn would make the quality control a less tedious job.
- Human Resource Management:EQ and humans come hand in hand in building a cohesive, well synchronized team which can then push through hardships and deliver while enjoying doing it. EQ would reduce the number and severity of conflicts and raises team’s morale.
- Communications Management:EQ is a PM’s elixir and magical potion to bring the people together and keep them in an effective delivery flow.
- Risk Management: EQ motivates the team to own the Risks of the project and participate in identification, brainstorming towards response planning and to stand on the look out for any changes to the risk status of the project.
- Integration Management:EQ acts as the invisible glue that will hold together the pieces of the project that are developing in parallel or are intertwined as the final deliverable. EQ lays out the baseline for effective and timely communications and mobilizes the teams on delivery of the integrated solution.
How does EQ reflect in key areas of Scrum Master or Kanban Flow-master responsibilities?
Again, the short answer: It affects everywhere you come in contact with humans … which is all of them!
In Agile we put the highest value on the team members interactions and collaboration toward delivery of the committed scope. Agile ceremonies, such as Sprint Planning or Daily Standups or Retrospective in Scrum, or the Feedback Loops in Kanban, are all teamwork activities where the team comes together to review, discuss, revisit and plan for the set of efforts that are in place towards delivery of work.
Is EQ fixed like your IQ, or can you raise its level?
Human IQ is almost fixed. As time passes by, you don’t really get smarter but can lose some of that due to a variety of cognitive damages over time.
EQ on the other hand is mostly learned during your upbringing and can develop to higher level through training and practice. Of course, using EQ to its maximum effective level will be a mix of effort, knowledge, experience and your very own creativity.
In order to develop and strengthen your EQ you can benefit from the following:
Self-Awareness: You can only have a positive influence on others and bring out the best in them, if you are in contact with your inner self and benefit from a well-grounded, strong core at the center of your character build up.
Self-Leadership: Your ability to conduct yourself in a productive and assertive manner throughout your daily activities and towards short-term and long-term goal come into play at this level. You need to walk the talk and set a good example by how you lead yourself.
Self-Motivation: You can motivate others – and they will believe and trust in you – if you can keep your own motivation up and engaging through easy and rough times in your life. Once you have mastered the art of self-motivation, you can transfer that to others.
We are humans working with humans in order to deliver value to humans. EQ resonates quite well among humans and facilitates ownership of responsibilities and care for the quality of delivery.
EQ serves as the language behind our language which directly talks to our audiences’ subconscious mind and get them to join-in, enjoy the workflow, own the outcome and thrive in delivery of value.
No leader, project manager of agile servant-leader has ever succeeded without EQ.
EQ is born with us, grows with us and on the way, builds good memories of victories through joint ownerships and shared successes during our career and beyond.
Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Arman Kamran