Emotional Intelligence (EI) is your ability to identify and control your emotions to be a successful leader. Emotional intelligence is an awareness of emotions in yourself and in others.  It is the ability to develop and manage strong relationships.  Emotional intelligence uses reason to identify, understand and effectively deal with emotions. Studies show EI is a skill linked to success at all levels. Project managers with high EI are better equipped to deal with, handle and resolve conflict and change.

Leading with Emotional Intelligence

  1. What is Emotional Intelligence?
  2. Benefits of Using Emotional Intelligence
  3. Three Emotional Intelligence Techniques

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Author and social scientist, Daniel Goleman identified five categories within emotional intelligence.  They are: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills.  These 5 categories define the ability to understand the needs and feelings of oneself and other people, manage one’s feelings, and to respond to others appropriately. Let’s walk through each competency.

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a pivotal component of emotional intelligence.   When you are self-aware, you have the ability to identify and name your emotions.  It means you have the ability to honestly recognize your emotions and the effect of your emotions.  It also includes the ability to know your strengths and limitations and having self-confidence in your capabilities and worth.

2. Self-Regulation

Regulation is the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating your own emotions, and when necessary and helping others to do the same.  Other aspects of self-regulation include trustworthiness, the flexibility to adapt to change and having high integrity.  Being open to new ideas and information is also a key trait of self-regulation.

3. Social Awareness

Another component of EI is social awareness.  Social awareness is mainly about empathy.  Empathy is our ability to feel what the other person is feeling.  We often describe it as the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Social awareness also includes organizational awareness.  This is the ability to anticipate and recognize customer needs, an ability to read the politics and understand the power dynamics in your organization.  Finally, social awareness includes sensing what others need to grow and develop.

4. Self-Motivation

Also called self-management, it describes your ability to demonstrate emotional self-control.  You may experience impulses or be in a bad mood, but you control those emotions.  As a person, you are interested in moving forward towards a goal or strategy.  You are also self-motivated and don’t let setbacks control the outcome.  Finally, you are able to stay calm under pressure and don’t panic in the face of a crisis.

5. Social Skills

The core to social skills is relationship management.  It covers abilities such as influence, conflict management, teamwork and leadership.  You use emotional intelligence to create and nurture relationships.  Your ability to influence comes from a strong ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.

Benefits of Using Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is important as our teams are more global. It is also important as more of our work is online.  Our environments are more intense, but they’re also more distributed and remote.   This means we have fewer opportunities for in person understanding.  We all have emotional intelligence skills.  The big benefits come from understanding, managing and using EI competencies to perform our work.  The benefits of emotional intelligence are far reaching:

  • Ability to actively listen and restate what you have heard .  This helps you clearly understand expectations and builds trust. You’ll find you are better aligned to the goals of the organization.
  • Improve the ability to develop ourselves and develop others. You are able to provide feedback effectively and are comfortable building the skills and abilities of others.
  • Helps with managing and resolving conflict. You need to be in touch with your emotions and to see another’s point of view to get to resolution.
  • Builds appropriate reactions within the context of your organization.
  • Helps you tailor your communications to influence stakeholders in our work environment, projects and day to day work.

Three Emotional Intelligence Techniques

By increasing your emotional intelligence, you can better connect and collaborate with others. You become more resilient and help motivate and lead others.  There are many things you can do to increase your emotional intelligence.  Here are three ways to lead with emotional intelligence:

1. Practice Recognition

  • Analyze your interaction daily.
  • Journal or note emotions as they arise.
  • Watch response in others. Notice body language. Notice when people are not engaged.

2. Use Empathy

  • Identify the emotion you are feeling, or the emotions others are exhibiting. Identify when you have experienced similar.
  • Note differences in how others respond. Your emotions may be different than others and that is good information to have in order to read the situation.
  • Tailor your responses by being aware of yourself and others. Then, adjust appropriately to the situation and respond intentionally.  This will prevent you from trying to tell another person what they should be feeling or to dictate a response.

3. Respond Intentionally

  • Stop reacting immediately. Not every thought in your head needs to be shared.
  • Ask yourself if this is the right time to respond? Or do you need to take more time to think through your response?
  • Ask yourself what is the appropriate response and how much information do I need to share?

Final Thoughts

As a project professional, applying your emotional intelligence skills to increase your organizational awareness, identify opportunities to use the appropriate level of empathy, and enhance your self-awareness of your emotions helps you be an effective leader. You’ll be better able to deliver project objectives and deliverables with less conflict and a more cohesive team.

RMC can help you elevate your leadership skills by examining strategies and tactics to increase organizational awareness by improving emotional intelligence.  Consider taking RMC’s Leading with Emotional Intelligence instructor-led virtual course.  We also offer a Leading with Emotional Intelligence micro eLearning course worth 1 PDU. Listen to our free recorded webinar on emotional intelligence.

Cate Curry
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