Is Emotional Intelligence important to Project Managers?

In my last post, I outlined some of the basic issues that this blog is intended to address.  There were 5 general questions; the first question was “Is Emotional Intelligence important to Project Managers?”





Frankly, I don’t know for sure the answer to that question.  I believe it is very important to project managers; perhaps critical.  It is especially important when it comes to managing large and complex project.  I also have some anecdotal evidence which suggests that at least some other project managers believe it is important.  Perhaps that is the more relevant issue; whether or not project managers believe that emotional intelligence is important to them.

Why do I believe that emotional intelligence is important?  First, I have my own experience applying emotional intelligence to project management.  Four years ago, I was the equivalent of the village idiot when it came to emotional intelligence.  I was unaware of what I was feeling and mostly oblivious to the feelings and emotions of those around me.  I was certainly not able to manage my emotions (beyond damping them down) or manage the emotions of those on my project teams for the success of the project. 

And my project management career reflected it.  Though successful with small or medium sized projects, people thought I lacked some of the soft skills at best or considered me abrasive at worst.  Many of the positions I had over the years did not require a high level of emotional intelligence or interpersonal skills.  Conversely, I was not considered for or promoted to positions that would have required those skills. 

The big turnaround came after a lot of research and an investment in personal growth with a coach.  Through a lot of hard work, I was able to take on some very large and complex projects (over 70 people) and deliver them successfully.  I will talk more about this in a future post.

The anecdotal evidence is that there are papers written and presentations and classes delivered on the topic of emotional intelligence for project managers.  Jim Taylor, a friend of mine from ESI International, is frequently asked to speak on the topic of Emotional Intelligence.  In May of 2005, I partnered with my brother Ted to develop and deliver an Emotional Intelligence class to a group from the PMI Chicagoland Chapter. 

How can we determine whether or not project managers believe that emotional intelligence is important to them?  This is really the critical issue here.  If they don’t believe they need, who am I to tell them that they do?  I am going to collect some information about that question using a survey of project managers.  If you are a project manager or know a project manager, please follow the link below (or use the one on the home page of this blog).

Take a Survey of Emotional Intelligence of Project Managers

I will share the results of the survey here in a future post.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. satish

    Hi ,
    Your articles have great information about numerous aspects of p management. Thanks for enlightening us on this.
    Can you brief your thoughts on the importance of social intelligence for PMs ?

  2. Anthony Mersino

    Hi Satish, I haven’t looked into the social intelligence yet. I know the book is out there but I haven’t found time to read it.
    Did you read Social Intelligence? What are your thoughts? Do you recommend it?

  3. satish

    Dear Anthony ,
    Wow ! you are so quick in responding and I have to congratulate you for this.
    I have managed good number of projects in different geographies and with whatever little project management experience of over 4 years I have , I am compelled to say that PM should have social intelligence besides emotional intelligence.

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