To coincide with our Annual Conference on the theme of harnessing emotional intelligence for major project delivery, we’ve invited Cathy Thompson and Kirsty McWilliam from Coaching Direct to share their perspectives in EI.

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What is emotional intelligence?

In our series of guest blogs, we want to explore Emotional Intelligence and its impact on Major Projects.

Let’s start with agreeing exactly what EI is. It is not the touchy feely stuff left only for HR …

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions – both in yourself and in other people. It can often be referred to as our emotional competencies as opposed to our technical or intellectual competencies.

At Coaching Direct, we are passionate about EQ (Emotional Quotient) and coaching our clients to develop their emotional intelligence. I was a project manager for many years and Kirsty was an accountant before we both became Executive coaches. We both saw first hand the importance of being in touch with our emotions when managing a team. It’s not always the brightest person in the room who is the most successful! We have a saying ‘you are only as strong as the EI of your weakest team member!’ Our role is to therefore not only manage our own EI, but those around us.

What model do we use and where did it come from?

We use the EQ-i 2.0, the only scientifically proven emotional intelligence development tool, it focuses on five key facets that work together to develop a level of emotional, social functioning and wellbeing. The five elements that make up the EQ-i 2.0 model are:

  1. Self-perception
  2. Self-expression
  3. Interpersonal
  4. Decision making
  5. Stress management

The EQ-i model was created by Rueven Bar-On, a research psychologist. Building on the work of Mayor and Salovey in the 1990’s, and Daniel Goldman who popularised the phrase Emotional Intelligence in 1995.

Rueven Bar-On said while he was interested in the theory behind EI, what did it matter if you could not measure it. He then set about building a scientific model, to clearly name and then measure emotional intelligence. And the EQ model was born!

There are 15 sub-scales in the EQ-i Model and each are equally as important but we all perform very different in each one! That is the exciting part when it comes to understanding the EI of your project team.

Before you can begin to understand others and your interactions and impact on those in your team, your self-perception and being in touch with your own feelings is vital!

Why is EI important while managing projects?

An emotionally intelligent project manager can perform at peak, becoming more self aware, understanding the emotions of those within their wider circle of influence, building productive and healthy working relationships which is the cornerstone for successful project delivery.

How does this look? “An emotionally effective PM can easily speak up in a meeting, getting their point across while exerting enough influence to get the decision made but also taking the team with them”

Having a strong EQ will help gain the trust of the wider project team and stakeholders and enable the application of key relationship techniques with better communication ensuring the team remain motivated!

Quite often we can have so many technical skills within a project team but we need EI skills to get things moving. It is therefore crucial to find that balance between technical skills and soft skills. Where are you with the balance?

Our emotions change all throughout the project lifecycle! I’m sure we’ve all experienced lots of different emotions from ourselves and our team members as a project progresses. Do you notice them?

Sometimes problems arise quickly which need to be solved and decisions need to be made fast and there are lots of different personalities involved. It can be difficult to deal with lots of difficult situations especially when so many emotions are involved. When I worked as a PM, I felt a key strength of mine was how to handle people who were out of control. Emotional intelligence enables you to handle people.

Sometime people feel that cannot change, but they can!

You can increase your EQ!

Our IQ is pretty fixed but our EQ is not…our EQ can be raised by firstly raising your own emotional self awareness. Until we do, we cannot understand our triggers or create positive behaviour change.

How can I RAISE MY EMOTIONAL SELF-AWARENESS?

  1. Be aware and recognise your own emotions – there are over 2000 emotions, but we perhaps only recognise around 20. What are your core emotions?
  2. Record the emotions you experience most regularly – are they positive or negative? Where do they come from?
  3. Lastly, would you prefer to react in a different way?

We will look more closely at understanding your triggers and creating positive change in our next blogs.

But for now, a few top tips:

  •  Keep a check on your own emotions
  • Check in on your own and your teams self regard!
  • Listen for what your team are saying and not saying!
  • Accept what’s within your control. We can only control how we react!
  • Be optimist – always look for the positives

Something to reflect on before our next blog post –

  • How do you express yourself to your team and your stakeholders? Is it in a calm and considered way or do you react quickly and impulsively?
  • Are you aware of the power of your expression and the reactions from other people?
  • How easy is it to make sound project decisions when we’re feeling stressed or angry?
  • What was the mood of your last project?

And don’t forget ‘Be yourself! No-one can say you’re doing it wrong’ Charles M Schulz.

EI is about managing behaviours to create a more successful and positive impact, not about changing you!

Read the second of Cathy and Kirsty’s blog posts in the Series.

Read the third of Cathy and Kirsty’s blog posts in the Series

Read the final of Cathy and Kirsty’s blog posts in the Series

Coaching Direct

Cathy Thompson and Kirsty McWilliam are both Executive Coaches for Coaching Direct Limited. Coaching Direct works with organisations large and small to provide expert consultancy on the strategic use of coaching, using metrics and reporting tools. We also work with business leaders to help them build organisational and performance objectives which focus around the development of their businesses through their people.