This post is addressed to those of you who remain unconvinced that emotional intelligence is critical for project managers. It is not only critical, it could be dangerous for a project manager (or any other leader) to lack emotional intelligence.
David Caruso and Peter Salovey, in their 2004 book titled The Emotionally Intelligent Manager, identified 6 principles of emotional intelligence. The number one principal cited in their book was:
#1 Emotion is Information
Nearly 5 years ago when I first met with Rich, the man who has since become my mentor and life coach, he asked me if I realized how dangerous it was to not be in touch with my emotions. Dangerous. That was an interesting word choice. He was right though. It was dangerous to not be able to access my emotions. Without access to the information that the emotions could provide, I was flying “blind” in a sense.
Our emotions are like our own personal radar. They provide us with a stream of information about our environment. To the extent that we are in touch with and able to access that information, we can leverage that data to improve our performance. If we are not in touch with our emotions, we are missing out on vital information about our environment. And that, as Rich would say, is dangerous.
Emotions provide us with extra data points that we need to perform at our best. They help us to improve our communications with others. That is critical for advanced project managers who want to manage large and complex projects. Once you get beyond the mechanics of managing projects, it is all about our stakeholder relationships and our ability to communicate and relate to others. To the extent that we have emotional information to assist us, we are going to be better at relationships and communications.
The additional data from our emotions also helps us to make better decisions. They provide us with an intuitive or “gut” sense of what we need to do next. In a world where being right 51% of the time is often enough to make the difference, those extra data points may be what it takes for us to be successful.
The fact that emotion is information is very good news for project managers. Developing and applying our emotional intelligence is within our reach.