Applied EQ #15: An Introduction to Self Management

In our last series of posts we talked at length about Self Awareness.  I would like to shift and focus now on the second building block of applied EQ for project management, Self Management.  Self management is when we begin to use our awareness of our feelings to manage ourselves. 


Self management is the ability to control our emotions so that they don’t control us.  That is the simple but powerful truth about self management.  We need to use what we know about our emotions to control and manage those emotions and our behavior.  This includes techniques that help us to regulate our emotions, to identify and prevent emotional triggers, and to identify and prevent cognitive disorders that can lead to emotional breakdowns.

Why is it important to manage our emotions?  It should go without saying that if you cannot manage yourself you cannot manage others.  No one wants to follow someone who is not in control of themselves.  The stereotypical boss who is valued because they use whatever means necessary to get the results from their teams is a relic of the past. 

I had a caveman manager like that for several years.  He was a loose cannon; a rage-aholic.  He survived only because he achieved results.  I worked for him on a couple of large projects and he had the same modus operandi; to berate people, run roughshod over them, and to intimidate them into performing as he wanted.  It didn’t matter if you were on his team or somehow in the way of his success, he treated everyone the same.

In fairness to this manager, the stakes were high and it was a high pressure job.  We were involved in recovering red projects, that is, projects that were failing.  It was our job to go in and recover the project.  It was a very stressful environment.  That said, the end did not justify the means.  There were other, better ways of achieving the results.  He simply was not able to use any other means because he did not have control over his emotions.

Ten years ago when I worked for this manager, he was valued by the organization for the results he was able to achieve.  These days, I don’t think that organizations tolerate or want that kind of behavior.   They want the results but are unwilling to sanction those methods.

We all probably know of managers who have reputations for kicking butt and then taking names.  You might recall the recent controversy over John Bolton, our US Ambassador to the United Nations.  When John Bolton was identified as a candidate to be the US Ambassador to the United Nations, news reports surfaced about his alleged negative behavior at previous government positions.  Mr. Bolton was called the “quintessential kiss up kick down manager”.  In case you are wondering, that is not a compliment.  Bolton’s nomination was nearly derailed because of that criticism. 

That is not to say that anger doesn’t have a place in business or in project management.  Anger, channeled productively, can move us and members on our teams better than any other emotion.  The key is to have control over anger, just as we need to control over all of our emotions.  That is all part of Self Management which we will explore over the next series of posts.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is such an important area, so easy to talk about, not too bad to apply when in a situation that is not “earth shattering”, and extremely difficult when in the middle of a gut wrenching situation. It is simple to talk about self control. However, “feel” your stomach go into a knot when you’re in the middle of a topic that is very important to you and someone else has a different view. My tidbit is allow time, lots of time to get to know the other persons point of view and only then to express your point sloooowly.

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