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April 21, 2014

Emotional Intelligence
for Project Managers
The People Skills You Need to Achieve
Outstanding Results
Anthony Mersino
2013 Anthony C. Mersino
Adapted by permission of AMACOM, a division of American
Management Association
ISBN: 978-0-8144-3277-8

Key Concepts
Project managers wishing to improve their management and leadership abilities must invest in
emotional intelligence. This means using emotions to enhance thinking, understand others, and
employ empathy.
A project managers resources will determine project success or failure. Only with the right skills,
experience, and motivations will team members
succeed. Therefore, it is critical for project managers to get the right team members and be able to
retain them until the project ends.

Conflict is endemic within projects and must be


managed effectively. The best performing people
assigned to projects also tend to be the most difficult to work with, and emotional intelligence
provides the tools to work with them and develop
productive relationships.
Emotions are a valuable source of incoming information. Project managers who are in touch with
their own emotions are better placed to use the
associated information to make better informed
decisions.

A successful project manager must be able to identify an organizations key power relationships.
This means recognizing the individuals who have
power and control over projects, including those
people who influence the decision makers.

Project managers who understand their team


members and themselves can communicate more
effectively. This understanding enables them to
choose words and messages that best connect
with team members and stakeholders.

Project management means getting work done


through others. This requires the competencies of
effective communication, inspiring and motivating others, managing conflict, and decisiveness.

Emotional intelligence can set a projects emotional tone. It enables project managers to create
success by fostering commitment, active cooperation, and high morale.

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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Introduction
Project managers require more than knowledge to
succeed at their tasks. Strong interpersonal skills
and the ability to recognize emotional cues are now
essential tools for team leadership. In Emotional
Intelligence for Project Managers, Anthony Mersino
explains how emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize and understand emotions as well as employ
them in the decision-making process, is a crucial asset
in successful project management. Effective project
managers (PMs) can use emotional intelligence to
communicate clearly, set the tone and goals for their
projects, engage and motivate team members, foster
collaboration, and counter stress and discord. Without these interpersonal competencies PMs risk seeing
even the best organized projects fail.

An Introduction to Emotional
Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the knowledge and management of ones own emotions and those of others for
improved performance. It is an essential tool for project managers, who must work effectively with others
in order to achieve success. Research has shown a
strong correlation between emotional intelligence and
project success, with all types of projects benefitting
from the related competencies of self-awareness, conscientiousness, sensitivity, and communication.
Project managers need emotional intelligence for several reasons. First, each project is unique, and as PMs
move from one project to another they encounter different teams, sponsors, and stakeholders. PMs must
master the skills to assess, understand, and manage
the emotions of team members and stakeholders to
establish relationships. Second, the temporary nature
of projects requires PMs to move quickly and develop
relationships early in the project to form the foundations for success. Finally, PMs have limited power
and authority over team members and cannot simply
order them to perform required tasks; this is why
strategies of inspiring, motivating, and leading are
needed to achieve project objectives.
The first element of emotional intelligence is selfawareness. This is the ability to recognize ones own
emotions and the influence they exert. One way in
which emotions manifest themselves is physically.

Anthony Mersino

The body can experience temperature swings, accelerated heart rate, muscle tightness, fatigue, and other
sensations. These sensations should be evaluated
until one can interpret what they reflect in terms of
associated emotional feelings. Facial expressions are
another medium of emotional display; a persons face
can reflect emotions of sadness, anger, excitement, or
happiness. Recognizing these expressions and their
emotional meanings can be a valuable tool in enhancing ones powers of self-awareness.
Another element of emotional intelligence is accurate
self-assessment. This is the ability to evaluate oneself
accurately and seek feedback from others to improve
personal performance. PMs who master this task are
aware of their strengths and weaknesses, learn from
their experiences, are receptive to honest feedback,
and have a sense of perspective about themselves.
Just as important is the presence that comes with
self-confidence. PMs should be able to present themselves with self-assurance, be willing to express
potentially unpopular views, and be able to make
difficult decisions. Self-confidence enables one to feel
a level of comfort that facilitates better communica-

Further Information
Information about the author and subject:
www.projectadvisorsgroup.com
Information about this book and other business titles:
www.amacom.org

Click Here to Purchase the Book


Related summaries in the BBS Library:
Becoming a Resonant Leader
Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your
Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness
By Annie McKee, Richard Boyatzis, and
Frances Johnston
Leading with Emotional Intelligence
Hands-On Strategies For Building Confident and
Collaborative Star Performers
By Reldan S. Nadler

Business Book Summaries April 21, 2014 Copyright 2014 EBSCO Publishing Inc. www.ebscohost.com All Rights Reserved

Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

tion and relationships with project team members


and stakeholders, thereby enabling improved performance and enhanced results.

Anthony Mersino

Project Management Begins with


Self-Management
Self-management
involves
managing
personal
emotions in order to control ones behavior. Self-management uses techniques that help regulate emotions,
perceive and head off emotional triggers, and identify
and prevent thoughts that invite emotional crises.

PMs can improve their emotional self-awareness by


using monitoring techniques to make ongoing assessments of their feelings. One way is through keeping
a written record throughout the
day on experiences and the feelPMs who master emotional intelligence will set themselves
ings resulting from them. Simple
entries can form a useful record apart from other PMs. They will be able to achieve more with
that, over time, may reveal pat- the same team. They will excel in their careers. And they will
terns of cause and effect that feel more satisfied with themselves and their relationships with
will provide useful insights into
others.
emotions and their behavioral
influences.
Self-management and control are highly influenced
Another form of monitoring is backtracking. This is the
retracing of ones activities to determine why a particular emotion is being felt. A PM feeling the onset of
a negative feeling can think back from the present to
earlier in the day and identify the specific event that
triggered the negativity. Once the source is identified,
it can be examined and addressed.

by self-awareness, which is useful in disarming negative emotions. Self-control is actually the maintenance
of composure under stress. Given the harmful effects
of negative emotions in a team environment, it is
natural that project managers seek to master them to
prevent damage to project dynamics. The damage can
be caused by:

The most effective monitoring will take place in


an environment of quiet reflection. Therefore, it is
advisable to take some time every day to relax and
think back on recent events. One can use meditation,
breathing exercises, or any other activity that assists
relaxation and enables thoughtful examination of
ones feelings.

Furious tirades: Explosions of anger at the workplace, in public, or in private.

About the Author


Anthony Mersino, PMP, PMI-ACP, is an Agile
Transformation Coach and IT program manager with more than 27 years of experience. He
has delivered large-scale business solutions to
clients that include Abbot Labs, IBM, Unisys,
ARAMARK, and Wolters Kluwer. He has also
provided enterprise agile coaching for The Carlyle Group, Bank of America, Hayneedle, and
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. He
lives in Chicago, Illinois.

E-mail ordnance: Angry expressions, through


modern office technology, of irritation, frustration, and resentment.
Withdrawal: Team members avoid meetings,
become uncommunicative, and sometimes avoid
specific project members.
Criticizing: Insecure people may voice unwarranted criticism of others with the intention of
causing hurt.
Sarcasm: A means to cause hurt without directly
addressing the truth.
Emotional breakdowns are often triggered by specific
emotional stimuli. Knowing what these stimuli are
and how to deal with them can remove the threats
that these triggers pose. Sometimes, foreshadowing,
or the anticipation of the worst, can be the trigger.
This occurs when one predicts negative outcomes of
future events. Defeating this problem is sometimes as
easy as identifying the pattern of negative thinking
and using another person as a sounding board to get a

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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Anthony Mersino

trusted opinion whether a suspected negative potentiality truly exists. Logic is another weapon. Analyzing
the foreshadowing on the basis of its logical underpinning will often reveal it to be without basis.

is a key tool. This means letting another speak without interruption, giving full attention and making eye
contact, and focusing only on that person while suspending judgment.

Emotional breakdowns can also be caused by distorted


thinking, a form of self-imposed depression that can
make one vulnerable to emotional disturbance. One
form of distorted thining is All or Nothing thinking, which is the belief that the slightest imperfection
equals failure. Recognizing the fallacy of this is the
best defense against the imperfection vulnerability.
A similar emotional threat is the tendency to dwell
only on the negative. By focusing only the unpleasant
things that happen, negativity can become the reality.
Again, it is important to realize that there are positive
things that outweigh the negative. The most effective
counter to this thinking is to remind oneself of past
and current success, achievement, and progress.

Being able to assess others feelings is also important. This means listening for words that convey their
emotions, such as disappointed, concerned, or nervous. The speakers may not attach much significance
to those words, but they are communicating more
than they are aware. Physical appearances can also
show feelings, both in facial expressions and body
language. The PM who recognizes the meaning of a
scowling face and folded arms has an advantage in
assessing feelings.

Self-control techniques are useful in resisting emotional breakdowns. Individuals need to know their
specific emotional triggers, the patterns of distorted
thinking, and the things that bolster their emotional
resilience. Personal health is also important; this
means eating healthy foods, getting sufficient sleep,
and exercising. Talking freely with good friends,
trusted acquaintances, and mentors can also help; the
opinions of these people will help to place negative
thoughts in their proper perspective.

Social awareness also involves the concept of organizational awareness. This is the ability to accurately
discern and understand the social, political, and cultural forces within an organization, as well as its key
power relationships. The easiest way to understand
an organizations culture and values is to read its mission statement. These statements often take the form
of wall posters, advertising slogans, and other promotional materials. Other insights can be obtained by
examining an organizations distribution of awards.
This means understanding who gets promoted and
why, as well as identifying the specific behaviors that
get rewarded and punished.

Determining key power relationships means identifying the


If we dont manage our emotions in the project environment, people who have power and politvery bad things can happen. In addition to poisoning the ical influence over projects. These
atmosphere of the team, we can get a reputation for being out people reveal themselves when
they make decisions that actuof control.
ally impact a project. A systematic
approach to evaluating power relationships is essenBuilding Project Stakeholder
tial because without recognizing decision makers,
Relationships
one cannot manage stakeholders.
Social awareness is the facility of evaluating situations
and people and understanding and empathizing with
Stakeholder relationships are important, and manothers emotions. This is important for project managing them involves carefully developing contacts
agers because they work through others and cannot
and understandings with stakeholders to gain their
succeed without them.
support for a project. A stakeholder is a person who
is impacted by a project or who can cause its failEmpathy is crucial to social awareness because it
ure. Stakeholders can be senior management, the
enables the PM to see matters from other peoples
customers program management office, vendors,
points of view and gain better understanding as a
suppliers, or end users of the deliverable. Once they
result. Empathetic listening, listening without judging,
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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Anthony Mersino

essential here and is one of the most vital skills for


are identified, their information should be collected
a PM. Much of the PMs management activities will
and analyzed. This means understanding stakeholder
involve moving around to talk with team members
roles on the project and their objectives. It is also
or stakeholders. Sitting in meetings, participating
important to determine the best communication style
in telephone conversations, and sending emails are
to use with themsome may prefer brief face-to-face
additional communications tasks that must be done
meetings while others may prefer e-mail or telephonic
well to ensure effective leadership.
communication. With the communication style
selected, PMs can then obtain
needed information from and
Leading others is all about relationships. If we build solid
provide information to the right
relationships with team members and other project stakeholders,
people using the methods that
work best. This approach is the we improve our ability to lead. Without relationships, leadership
best for creating solid relation- is difficult or impossible.
ships with the individuals whose
support is vital to project success.
PMs can best craft communications by using the following steps:
Another aspect of relationship management is that
of developing others. This means increasing team
1. Determine the objectiveBefore issuing instructions
members capabilities and building team cohesion.
or seeking information from others, understand
One useful approach is to acknowledge and reward
the point of the communication, whether it be to
specific skills and contributions, thereby showing
obtain a progress update, recognize a team memappreciation. Another developmental method is to
bers contribution, or motivate a team member to
provide practical feedback and identify those areas
work harder.
where an individual needs further growth; this should
2. Understand personal emotionsPMs should be
be communicated as an investment in the individuals
aware of their own emotions before selecting
potential for contribution. Finally, a proficient PM will
the method and content of communication. This
give relevant coaching as needed and assign tasks that
facilitates the accuracy of the communication and
challenge and nourish a persons skills.
reduces the probability of ambiguity.
Another component of relationship management is
3. Select the appropriate time, place, and modeDelivthat of telling the truth. This means using an unvarying
ering bad news as team members are leaving for
openness in communicating with others, something
home is bad timing. Personal issues, such as poor
that is not always easy. It can involve tactfully disperformance, are best discussed in private. Firing
agreeing with superiors, saying no to someone
should not be done by e-mail, and instant messagwho clearly expects yes, and voicing existing issues
ing is a poor medium for a contentious discussion.
with another person. Some topics may be difficult to
address and will require courage to bring to light,
but telling the truth requires risk taking in order to
develop the relationship. Ultimately, the respect a PM
earns for being truthful can become a key element of
project success.

Using EQ to Lead Project Teams


Project team leadership is the dominating focus of
emotional intelligence competency for PMs. It means
obtaining the right people for the team, motivating
and communicating successfully, resolving conflict,
and removing obstacles so that team members can
achieve project objectives. Good communication is

4. Listen and respond to the emotions of othersPMs


must be able to discern the difference between the
content of what people say and the emotions that
underlie it. It may be more appropriate to respond
to the emotions rather than the precise wording of
the expression.
Team meetings are essential components of project
management, and PMs can maximize their utility by
using these approaches:
Begin by stating meeting objectives and the
agenda.

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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Assess the groups emotions; if people seem bored


or tense, do not hesitate to ask why.
Show respect for others; this applies to team
members not in attendance.
Enforce appropriate expressions of emotions;
reproach sarcasm or malicious criticism.

Anthony Mersino

Emotional intelligence is an effective tool in conflict


resolution because it facilitates the understanding of
opposing parties feelings and helps in identifying
underlying needs. These may include the need to be
recognized, to be considered important, the desire to
be productive, and the need for self-expression.

Project managers must use emotional intelligence


Address conflict; where it arises, examine, disto create a project environment that is positive and
cuss, and work to resolve it.
productive for the team. They do this by setting the
projects tone and direction with
A great deal of conflict that we experience on projects could specific leadership conduct. First,
be reduced or eliminated if we simply tried to understand the they lead by example. They show
other persons point of view before we tried to convince them themselves willing to take on difof our own message. We need to listen with the intention of ficult tasks, sacrifice their own
interests, and never assign any
understanding what others are trying to say.
team member a chore that they
would not do themselves. Second,
Conflict is unavoidable on projects. Time, cost, and
they
are
optimistic.
They set positive expectations
scope are potential fuels for conflagration wherever
for team performance and project outcomes. Team
people must interact to achieve project goals. There
members feel heightened senses of creativity when
will also be conflict over resources, recognition,
they are directed by optimistic leaders and perform
responsibilities, reporting structures, and personaccordingly. Third, they establish team values. These
alities. Without proper management, conflict will
are the expected norms of the team and represent an
disrupt productivity and may even lead to failure.
accepted standard of how team members will act and
Project managers must first recognize it when it arises
treat each other. Naturally, PMs must enforce these
and then choose one of several methods of removnorms, whether they mean showing up for work on
ing it. Possible methods include compromise, which
time, attending meetings, or judicious use of team
does not entirely satisfy each party but offers some
resources. Enforcement shows team members that
measure of identifiable benefit. Compromise is best
the PM treats everyone fairly and in accordance
in situations where the stakes are not high. Another
with stated expectationsan underpinning of good
method is accommodation, which works to emphasize
morale.
areas of agreement and attempts to minimize points
of conflict. Its drawback is that problems can be submerged only to reappear at another time.
Forcing is another conflict resolution technique. It
actually requires the suppression of disagreement,
usually by the PMs clear statement that conflict will
not be tolerated. It fails to address the cause of the
discord and should only be used when time is limited or when no other solution appears to be viable.
The most effective method is confrontationfacing
the conflict directly and employing problem-solving
techniques to break down the disagreement. Confrontation exposes the conflict elements to full view
for examination so that the underlying causes can be
addressed.

Projects of greater size and complexity require PMs to


have enhanced levels of emotional intelligence. PMs
will encounter the following on larger projects:
Stakeholder conflictdisagreements about objectives and approaches.
Layers of stafflarger project teams that may be
divided into subteams headed by other PMs.
Subcontractors and vendorsthird parties that
require effective PM communication skills in
order to deliver desired results.
Virtual teamsstaff that are in remote locations
and removed from daily face-to-face PM contact.

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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

In larger projects, the most successful PMs will


be those who step away from the daily minutia of
activities and deliveries and instead concentrate on
leadership, coaching, stakeholder management, and
task facilitation. The primary tool for this effort will
be delegation. PMs who find this difficult should start
delegating small tasks and work upward. Those who
receive delegated responsibilities must be made to
understand their accountability.
Management of virtual teams presents its own challenges, largely because of team members placement
in different locations. This means that emotional
intelligence has to be employed to get the most
effectiveness out of telephonic and e-mail communications. It is strongly recommended that PMs have at
least one face-to-face meeting with each team member
at an early stage of the project. This assists in later
communication when the PMs can remember the
earlier physical meetings and picture facial expressions and body language. Project communications
can be greatly enhanced with available technology,
which can include a project web site, blogs, instant
messaging, bulletin and discussion boards, and video
conferencing. Teleconferences are one of the most
important means of project communications, and it
is vital that they not be overly formalized or structured. PMs can build relationships with virtual team
members by encouraging them to talk about their
viewpoints, interests, goals, and even hobbies.
Agile projects may pose a different challenge for the
PM but can be effectively managed using emotional
intelligence. Agile teams are generally self-organizing
groups working on new product or service development efforts in a very flexible and interactive manner.
Most team activities are performed by the team with
little PM participation. This means the PM must avoid
heavy-handed involvement that might squelch team
creativity and inventiveness.
The substitute for PM direction and control in these
teams is servant leadership. Servant leadership
means making the requirements of others a priority
and then serving them. Agile leaders function best
in this role when they remove obstacles and assist
the team to improve collaborative performance. PMs
stuck in the traditional command mindset can benefit from adopting a different set of approaches. First,

Anthony Mersino

they should refrain from offering advice and instead


place the focus on team problem resolution. Second,
they must release expectations of specific results and
focus on team learning and growth. Lastly, they must
be willing to let teams fail, not spectacularly but in the
sense of learning from a misstep.
g g g g

Features of the Book


Estimated Reading Time: 56 hours, 278 pages
Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers introduces the concepts of emotional intelligence and
presents the ways in which it can be applied to
achieve project goals. The book would benefit project managers who wish to enhance their leadership,
communications, motivational, and developmental skills. It contains numerous figures and tables to
illustrate its major points, and Anthony Mersino has
provided many anecdotes detailing his experiences
in project management. Some chapters end with personal action plans to assist readers in setting down
specific emotional intelligence development tasks. A
set of appendices provide assessment tools. The book
should be read in order to preserve its continuity.

Contents
Acknowledgments
Part One: An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence
1. My Growth in Emotional Intelligence
A Dangerous Situation
Emotional Mastery for Project Managers
Project Management Is Competitive
The Rules for Project Managers Have Changed
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Measuring Your Emotional Intelligence
The Good News About Emotional Intelligence
Applying Emotional Intelligence to Project Management
Emotional Intelligence Is Vital to Project Managers
2. A Brief Primer on Emotional Intelligence

Business Book Summaries April 21, 2014 Copyright 2014 EBSCO Publishing Inc. www.ebscohost.com All Rights Reserved

Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Anthony Mersino

The Popularity of Emotional Intelligence

Developing Others

Some Useful Definitions

Telling the Truth

How to Improve Your Understanding of Emotional Intelligence Concepts

Additional Principles of Relationship Building

Learning About Emotional Intelligence Is Only


the First Step
Part Two: Project Management Begins with SelfManagement
3. Self-Awareness
An Introduction to Self-Awareness
Emotional Self-Awareness
Accurate Self-Assessment
Self-Confidence
Techniques to Improve Your Self-Awareness
Personal Action Plan: Self-Awareness
4. Self-Management
The Emotional Intelligence Model for Project
Management
Self-Control
Prethinking or Foreshadowing
Techniques to Improve Our Self-Control
Personal Action Plan: Self-Management
Part Three: Building Project Stakeholder Relationships
5. Social Awareness
An Introduction to Social Awareness
Empathy
Seeing Others Clearly
Organizational Awareness
Emotional Boundaries
Techniques for Improving Our Social Awareness
Personal Action Plan: Social Awareness
6. Relationship Management
An Introduction to Relationship Management

Techniques for Managing Relationships on Projects


Personal Action Plan: Relationship Management
Part Four: Using EQ to Lead Project Teams
7. Project Team Leadership
An Introduction to Project Team Leadership
Communications
Methods of Project Communications
Conflict Management
Inspirational Leadership
Additional Considerations for Team Leaders
Techniques for Improving Project Team Leadership
Personal Action Plan: Project Team Leadership
8. Creating a Positive Team Environment
What Makes a Great Project Team?
How PMs Set the Tone and Direction for the Project
The Team Within the Team
Techniques for Creating a Positive Team Environment
Personal Action Plan: Creating a Positive Team
Environment
9. Leveraging Emotional Intelligence on Large and
Complex Projects
Are You Ready to Lead Large and Complex Projects?
Characteristics of Large and Complex Projects
Concerns for Large-Scale Project Managers
Applying Different Leadership Styles
Applying Emotional Intelligence to Virtual Project Teams

Stakeholder Relationships
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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Anthony Mersino

Emotional Intelligence Techniques for Large and


Complex Projects
Personal Action Plan: Leveraging Emotional Intelligence on Large and Complex Projects
10. Success with Agile Projects
Agile Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Coaches,
and Team Leaders
Servant Leadership Is an Alternative to Command and Control
Agile Leaders Need to Be Emotionally Intelligent
Social Awareness and Relationship Management
Positive Regard
Techniques for Improving Our Success with Agile
Projects
Personal Action Plan: Success with Agile Projects
Epilogue
Appendices
A. Emotional Tally Sheet
B. Assessment for Emotional Self-Awareness and
Self-Control
C. Stakeholder Management Tool
D. Emotional Intelligence Movies and Scenes
E. Books on Emotional Intelligence
F. Emotional Intelligence Assessment Instruments
Index
g g g g

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