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.


I hope you’ve had time to ponder the questions at the end of our last post

Do you have the ability to deliver bad news without causing a scene?

Hopefully you’ve picked up from our last blog that getting your point across in an effective way is key.  Something that we all understand as leaders is that delivering bad news will always be part of our role, however if done in the right way, it doesn’t have to be negative.

 Have you ever fired off that email response when you’re feeling hot about the situation? Read on for some tips on decision making and managing our impulse control.

Before we get into that, I’ll continue to break down the EQ-i model building on our self perception and self expression by looking at interpersonal relationships and decision making and how this might have an impact on the delivery of our projects.

Have your interpersonal relationships ever caused you to not be taken seriously?


The Interpersonal element of the EQ-i 2.0 is made-up of 3 sub scales –

  1. Interpersonal Relationships
  2. Empathy
  3. Social Responsibility (Being part of something bigger than you)

Having the ability to understand our team, communicate and listen is of the upmost importance for the delivery of any major project. We can often call these our ‘relationship techniques’ and these are the key components of Leadership. Our own awareness of our Emotional Intelligence (as discussed in earlier blogs) is the starting point to building mutually satisfying relationships at work, as well as establishing a motivated team focussed on strengths and on a solid foundation of trust.

Reflect on your last meeting with a member of your project team –

 Did you really listen and place yourself in the other persons shoes? I’m talking about empathy here. Empathy at its core is listening to understand someone’s motivation and drive – this is a key leadership skill.

‘Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply’ – Steven Covey

 Listening top tips –

  •  Give someone your full attention
  • Don’t jump in with advice until asked/just listen
  • Be sure you understand
  • Check in on how others in your team are feeling

 We are all very keen at the moment to say we are all in the same boat. I’ve heard this statement so much over the last few months! But of course we are not. We might be in the same storm but our boats are all very different!

Take a moment –

  • Think of a boat on the water
  • Think about where it is, what it’s doing?
  • What can you see, what are the colours?

We all see things differently, our situations are very different – your boat is going to be different than everyone else’s.

I discussed the boat analogy with a recent coaching client and she told me this quote which has really stuck with me…

‘A ship in the harbour is safe but thats not what it was built for’

This little quote is more about taking action and moving things forward. It’s a reminder to step out of that comfort zone.

Each of us reading this blog are all in very different situations within the storm. So to really have empathy, we first need to understand each others boats!

We often hear from leaders – ‘we don’t have time to do this!’ It doesn’t have to be hours of asking how someone is. It can be…

  • That moment in a project meeting when you realise someone in your team is not coping so you check in with them afterwards
  • That moment before a big presentation when you give a reassuring smile as you know they are nervous
  • It’s about connecting, motivating and empowering

I’ll leave you to ponder this and ask yourself – when was the last time you truly listened?

Let’s reflect a little on the next element of the EQ-i 2.0 model. You will all understand the need to make decisions every day, large and small.

Decision Making

The Decision Making element of the EQ-i 2.0 is made-up of 3 sub scales –

  1. Problem Solving
  2. Reality Testing
  3. Impulse control

What feedback have you been given on how you solve issues or problems that arise from your team? How often do you ask for feedback?

 Asking for feedback from 1 team member is good but asking for feedback from everyone is even better – you are more inclined to act on the feedback if everyone confirms you should develop the same behaviour! This can also be a great way to recognise the EI behaviours we need to develop.

 The goal within this EI composite is to have a balance and when it comes to Reality Testing, do we always see things how they are? Do we have the evidence to make sound decisions without acting on impulse?

How does this look – “An emotionally effective PM will use both emotional and objective information to make key project decisions.’’

Ignoring emotional information means we don’t get the full picture and can result in impulsive decision making. This is not about being ‘emotional’, it’s about seeing that whole picture so we can make informed decisions.

 Remember that hot and bothered fired off email? Even taking 5 minutes, a deep breath and a quick ‘save in draft’ can really ensure the response received is effective.

 EI tips to help us with our decision making –

  • Ask for feedback!
  • Look for evidence
  • Delay response

Our final blog post in our series will be solely focussed on Stress management and project delivery can be a stressful role but we can change how we deal with it! This is very close to my heart from my experience as a PM.

Read Cathy and Kirsty’s first blog post in the Series

Read Cathy and Kirsty’s second blog post in the Series

Read Cathy and Kirsty’s final blog 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.