Applied EQ #19: Self Control is not just for the Negative Emotions

Self Control is not just for negative emotions.  We have talked about self control when it comes to negative emotions.  This is critical because negative emotions can poison the atmosphere in a team.  However, we may also need to exercise control over positive emotions like happiness or excitement.   

Consider a situation where you are happy and excited over the achievement of a significant milestone just prior to a meeting with a team member who is upset about a conflict.  Happiness and excitement would be inappropriate here as they would be in a situation when someone has just received bad news such as a death in the family.  As the project manager, you may need to dampen your excitement or happiness in situations like this. 

Roller_coaster_2 There are lots of opportunities for emotional self control on a long project.  In fact, being on a long project can be like riding an emotional roller coaster.  The longest project I ever managed was 3 years.  During that time, the team went through a lot of emotions.  We reached 6 major client milestones and numerous minor milestones.  We kicked off new years, new phases of the engagement, and new initiatives.  As a team of nearly 100 people, we experienced promotions, demotions, firings, resignations, babies born, marriages, and deaths in our families.

Over the course of that project, it was important that I managed my emotions.  I shared the excitement of reaching important milestones with one part of the team while sharing sadness over the loss of a key resource.  I also had a member of the team lose his own father and his father-in-law within 6 months. It was critical that I managed both the highs and the lows during this time.

The larger the team and longer the project, the more likely it is that you will have a wide range of emotions at any one time.  As the project manager and leader of the team, you have to be balanced and not go to extremes.  This requires a high degree of emotional self-control.

In the next post, we are going to talk about how we can lose our cool in the project environment and experience an emotional breakdown.