Emotional Intelligence For Project Managers – Nice to Have Or Necessity?

If only it were just about defining scope, creating a project plan, and tracking costs! Project Management obviously encompasses all those things, but now more than ever it’s also about relationship development, team building, influencing, collaborating, and negotiating often in a very complex environment. As my father often said, this job would be easy, if it weren’t for the people!

The pervasive school of thought among corporate leaders until recently was that a person’s IQ score is the best indicator of how successful that person will perform in the work environment, and that emotions are something to be checked at the door, considered to be a hindrance to the individual’s success PMP certification . But this thinking is changing as a new generation of managers enters the leadership ranks. Enter Emotional Intelligence (EI). Awareness of EI started with Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990, and Salovey considers EI to be the “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”.

Daniel Goleman popularized the EI theory with his book “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, and there are a number of other critical contributors to the discussion on EI. This article will use the model developed by Dr. Steven Stein, CEO of Multi Health Systems, based on the Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment (EISA) published by Pfeiffer, an Imprint of John Wiley & sons, to show that EI is a critical skill for a Project Manager to be successful. The EISA stems from the previous work of BarOn (1997), Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (1997), and Goleman (1998), and has evolved into a five factor model that assesses the interconnected components of emotional intelligence that are directly tied to emotional and social functioning.

So why does a Project Manager need an understanding of Emotional Intelligence as well as the ability to track schedules and budgets? Project Managers need to be able to do the following:

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