The Emotionally Intelligent Project

Ever pondered the source of your project successes? Is the key to an effective project the accuracy of the project plan, the cohesiveness of the project team or simply the endless supply of coffee? Arguably all three, say Nine Feet Tall, but team dynamics often feature as the overlooked ingredient.

Creating a winning team is not a complex science, so long as emotional intelligence sits at its heart. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of yourself and of others. That doesn’t mean being nice all the time or letting your emotions run wild. It’s a psychological concept often talked about alongside IQ. Rather than a fixed attribute of cognitive ability (language, logic, problem solving, memory), EQ describes emotional attributes that can be cultivated, learned and improved.

An emotionally intelligent workforce is widely recognised as a driver for business success, to the point that many organisations now base their recruitment on it. The business case is compelling – emotional intelligence can boost profits, productivity and performance, and even predict success more closely than either IQ or previous relevant experience in a role. The Project Management Institute tell us “Emotional intelligence matters 2 ½ times as much as IQ.”

So if you think your project team members could benefit from a dose of emotional intelligence, follow our top tips below for instant impact.

  1. Check in with yourself – set aside time during your day to assess your emotional state. Ask yourself questions about how you feel about certain events, or occurrences, and answer them honestly.
  2. Label your emotions – once you determine what and how you feel, if you learn to label these emotions, it can help you identify the source or ‘trigger’ of negative feelings.
  3. Solicit feedback – it can be difficult to see ourselves through the eyes of others. This is what makes self-awareness challenging. One way to get started is by soliciting and listening to feedback from those around you.
  4. Watch and listen fully – getting absorbed in another’s life story strengthens the connections between your cognitive and emotional brain.
  5. Be objective – separate your own emotions from those of your team and be careful of jumping to conclusions about how someone is feeling and why. Your colleague isn’t angry because you didn’t answer her call; she’s angry that she got a parking ticket this morning.
  6. Control the impulse – when you recognise a negative emotion, pause. The impulse reaction is rarely the constructive one.
  7. Reframe your mind – when you’ve identified emotions and reactions that aren’t useful, replace them with new ones that are more positive. Then work hard and practice putting these into action.
  8. The ideal – ask yourself the optimal emotions that those around you must feel in order to achieve success both individually and as a group.
  9. From A to B – use actions to take your team from their current emotions to beneficial emotions. This skill is critical to being a good leader, resolving conflicts and developing peers.

For more information on creating strong dynamics within a team and cultural change within an organisation contact


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