Emotional Intelligence in Project Management 3 Emotional Intelligence in Project Management
Review: 5- 5 5 Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

Innovation Hub
24 February
13 min read
Emotional Intelligence in Project Management 4

It’s assumed that people who know how to manage their emotions and control the feelings or emotions of other people can use this skill in different areas of life and be more successful, including managing projects. In product design activities, this skill is precious. Developing emotional intelligence will help you as a project manager to strengthen relationships with stakeholders that contribute to the success of the project, anticipate and avoid emotional breakdowns. Deal with difficult team members and resolve conflicts. Let’s discover more on emotional intelligence in project management and how it may improve the agile processes within the teams.

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (otherwise also referred to emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, apply, and manage one’s own emotions in multiple positive ways to relieve their stress, communicate more effectively, empathize with other team members, overcome challenges and furthermore defuse conflicts if any.

According to research, emotional intelligence for project management is among the major success factors for a manager. There is a practical guide to emotional intelligence for project managers in modern agile organizations. Technical skills and project management knowledge are not enough for success. You need to manage team emotions and develop communication skills on a higher level.

What Does Emotional Intelligence Contain?

It’s clear now that emotional Intelligence is the ability to deal with both your own emotions and understand the nature of emotions of other people around you. It’s a complex phenomenon and is reported to have at least five key elements like: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and also social skills. Some researchers also refer these as EI instruments.

  • Self-awareness

Self-awareness is a person’s awareness of himself, the psyche, anxieties, motives, feelings, thoughts, actions and feelings. It does not arise immediately; it arises in the process of acquiring experience. However, it is inherent in us and everyone goes through the same stages.

  • Self-regulation

Self-regulation is the management of one’s psycho-emotional state, which covers the impact of a person on themselves with the help of the power of words, mental formations, control of muscle tone and breathing. 

  • Motivation

Motivation is a way to quickly achieve a goal, based on a psychophysiological process that directs a person’s behaviour, contributes to his activity and performance. It represents a set of motives. A motive from French means a reason.

  • Empathy

What is empathy in simple words? Empathy is a conscious understanding of the inner world and the state of another person, the ability to sympathize and empathize. Emotional intelligence project management often lacks empathy.

  • Social skills

Social skills are all the abilities we come across to communicate with other people, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language, and our personal appearance. The process of owning them is called socialization. 

Adaptability should not be confused with the ability to socialize. Having managed to adapt to society, a person may never adapt in it. This means that moral attitudes and personal principles are completely at odds with those that exist in the environment – cultural, social, and communicative. In this case, the person needs to decide what is worth changing so as not to be in a depressed emotional state. Therefore, adaptability should be defined not only as the ability to adapt to change but also as the desire to adapt to it.

  • Adaptability

Some sources may underline adaptability as the sixth element. Adaptability includes empathy, stress tolerance, decision making and communication skills. It primarily consists in the analysis and adequate perception of the environment, as a result of which the ability to remain a holistic personality is developed.

The psychologic glossary says that since adaptation is an interpenetrating process, it means that not only a person can change, but also the environment in which he/she exists. Adaptability is expressed in the ability to transform the reality surrounding the individual in accordance with their ethical and moral ideas. If a person has adaptability, then they endure changes in life much easier, have the ability to adequately orient in any (especially unpleasant) situations, have higher emotional stability, and are also able to change, which does not frighten, but rather inspires.

Scientific Facts about EI

Emotional intelligence (EI) and emotional quotient (EQ) which literally means the degree, and strength of expression of those emotions is not quite about the development of a genius, sharpness of mind, or erudition. It is rather the basis for such development. The study shows that children and adults are able to understand their emotions and other people manage them, and the emotions as a powerful resource tool helps to achieve their goals, form skills, and bring maximum results in many cases of activity.

Scientific evidence undeniably shows that emotional intelligence is the main thing that distinguishes the best from the best among everyone else. However, there are those among us who do not enjoy high quality at all or takes it for granted till it’s too late.

Thus, the developed emotional intelligence improves the quality of interaction between people, their family members, stakeholders, team members, or anyone and ensures a more flexible adaptation to the requirements and complexities of the environment. Such people are called emotionally competent.

The fact is that people with high emotional intelligence are able to use their emotions more effectively. Those with low EI may ignore them, misinterpret them, or entirely obey to them without benefiting from such signals, either in work or play.

Emotional intelligence is twice as important as hard skills and IQ for career success.

Back in 1990, researchers John (Jack) Mayer and Peter Salovey published a short article in a scientific journal called Emotional Intelligence. In it, they characterized their idea of what “emotional intelligence” is, justified why, in their opinion, it is about intelligence, and outlined the difference between social and emotional intelligence.

When the concept of emotional intelligence gained wider popularity, the Israeli psychologist Ruven Bar-On also decided to compete for the primacy of the topic. Legend has it that “in the first copy of his doctoral dissertation, which was presented in 1985, Bar-On proposed an approach to creating an ‘EQ analogous to IQ’. However, people who saw the first instance claimed that there was no talk of anything like that. One way or another, little known at that time, Bar-On was defined as one of the world’s most respected experts in the field of emotional intelligence. his model is well known till nowadays.

Models of Emotional Intelligence

Developing emotional intelligence will help you strengthen relationships with stakeholders that contribute to the success of the project, anticipate and avoid emotional breakdowns, deal with difficult team members and resolve conflicts, and use emotional information to make better decisions. With EI you  build more effective communication, create a positive work environment and high team morale.

Develop a vision for the overall goals of the project that will interest, inspire and motivate the team through the EI model you choose.

There are three main branches of emotional intellect:

  • the ability model,
  • the trait model,
  • and the mixed model.

An ability model is developed by Drs. Peter Salovey and John Mayer and it includes four main components. Another, mixed model of emotional intelligence also known as the Bar-On model (1997a), was developed by Israeli scientist Reuven Bar-On, which comprised 15 interrelated emotional and social competencies. Generally, there are several various approaches to EI modeling.

1.The ability model

This model conceptualizes EI as a certain narrow set of interconnected, objectively measured cognitive-emotional abilities, including the ability to perceive, manage, adjust, and realize the emotions of the self and others. However, there are traits that are particularly effective in most management situations with emotional and social implications that help in managing pople.

2.The trait model

According to Petrides, Pita, & Kokkinaki, trait emotional intelligence (trait EI) refers to rather a constellation of some sort of emotional self-perceptions located at the lower personality hierarchy levels and may integrate the affective aspects of personality. Thus, since Trait EI is significantly related to our most relevant interest areas of prosperity and happiness in our lives across the whole life span, such as health, well-being, romantic and social relationships, leadership goals, psychosocial adjustment, better academic performance, or job performance, and so on, it echoes within the managers’ performance.

3.The mixed model

Reuven Bar-On was not alone to research mixed EI. Goleman also developed a four aspect mixed model that could mirror this development as well as draws on both ability and trait EI in the following ways: self-awareness – we start to identify our own emotional states, self-regulation – we develop the ability to manage our emotions.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Help Improve Project Management?

A leader with a well-developed EI will always be able to charge the team to work, positively influence the climate in the company and dwell on the business efficiency. That’s why emotional intelligence for project managers is needed. Many successful managers used EI in their work. Examples include billionaire Warren Buffett – Berkshire Hathaway, Apple leader Steve Jobs, and even the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. All of them used their own high level of emotional intelligence to achieve success in life and business.

Recent studies have shown that 80% of employees who work under managers who do not use EI in their work feel disconnected and do not show loyalty to the company. And 50% of employees who decide to quit do so because of the attitude of their managers and their emotions/actions. 

Emotional intelligence for managing projects is one of the most important factors. It plays a crucial role in building a positive and fruitful working environment where the project lead, may remove any obstacles and help various people from the team to deliver the project successfully.

With the development of emotional intelligence, negative emotions weaken their influence, it becomes possible to think clearly, which means that the main attention should be paid to what really matters. Thus, with the development of emotional intelligence, a person’s dreams become reality faster and faster. So if you are looking to increase your emotional intelligence, you will probably increase your attractiveness to others and your self-esteem along with it.

How to Increase Your EI?

During the work on a project, employees communicate a lot, and they need to try to find an approach to each other in order to work effectively. Efficiency refers to the faster and better execution of a project with limited resources. It is especially important that a project manager who directs all work commands has this EI on a great level. To increase it, try these 3 simple steps:

Learn EI

Studies say that throughout our development, we have learned to improve our emotional responses, so admit that Homo sapiens do can control themselves. Learn how to manage team emotions and develop communication skills that play a key role in your team’s success. Take a look at what you may get in the way of creating a positive work environment and high team morale. A more honest approach is to admit that we just don’t want it enough or are insanely afraid to go 100% for it, etc.

Apply the knowledge

To cope with any emotional disorder like stress, try to define your emotion more precisely, break it down into as many details as possible (granularity), understand them and conquer. Try to watch yourself. Do you notice such emotional red flags in your behavior? What is the reason for this behavior? What can you do to deal with these emotions, etc? People with higher emotional granularity scores are better able to distinguish between their emotional experiences and as a result, control them better or avoid them.  Improve

Emotional experiences can be understood and reinvented. For example, you are worried about whether you will be able to complete the work under a tight schedule. In this case, focus on the fact that your company can become a hero for your client if successful. If you’re nervous, then you do care. And if you care about the business, you can make it a success anyway.

Ask for feedback

You can’t fix your behavior you don’t know about. The most important component of emotional intelligence is the ability to look at yourself from the outside or the ability to be aware of your actions. It doesn’t really matter if you interview everyone who deals with you at work, or just a few. 

In any case, this is a key step in understanding what you are doing and what you are not doing. And don’t just try to justify your behavior. By doing this, you only bring all your efforts to nothing. On the contrary, listen to the feedback, try to understand and assimilate it better. When you first hear what others think of you as an owner or a PM or whoever, you immediately began to defend yourself. But, when you listen to the opinions of others, you recognize them as being objective and correct and decide to improve the way you interact.


Thus, the better you understand your own emotions and the emotions of others, the better your chances of success. Developing emotional intelligence can increase productivity and labour consumption and help with both professional and personal relationships. The level of EI determines how a person will build communication, solve complex problems and deal with various difficulties. A high level of EI helps build a successful career, be productive, build a team and stay motivated. 

It serves as a foundation for key competencies that are essential for success. The ability to manage your emotions increases awareness, initiative, proactivity, flexibility, and self-confidence. In product design activities, this skill is very valuable. We cannot change our emotions, but we can control them. The simple ways to increase emotional intelligence will do for business owners, their project managers, and other participants in the most extreme business situations.


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