Project managers are executors by nature/by call. In times of crisis or trouble, they often find themselves in a leader’s role. Team members will look for clues. They will want to know that someone is taking care of them. The project manager will have to embrace that role of a leader. And a good leader embraces emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is the key ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and to influence the emotions of others. Often underestimated, this ability can save a project/a situation or can crash it.
Case # 1. On one what appeared to be yet another ordinary day, Rowena, a project manager at the beginning of her career, received a phone call from the boss of a transportation company the project hired to take a group of trainers to different cities across the country. The driver reported an attempt to jump of the speeding car by one of trainers. He pulled the car over and called his boss. The boss called Rowena, the project manager. Rowena called the leader of the group. He was mad and his tone was defying. He wanted to cancel the trip and the entire series of trainings. She was calm and listened. She only asked: ” You are the most experienced guy in the group and this is happening under your watch? We can cancel the thing. The pre-paid expenses will be lost. The client will have to receive an explanation. Please think about it and let’s talk when you can.”
Ten minutes later, he called back to say that they are all fine and that the training will happen. He asked though to change the driver. He was discontent that the driver reported the incident. That was arranged with the transportation company, with no consequences for the driver’s pay, as Rowena insisted he does not suffer any consequences. He did his job.
What Rowena did was to listen to all concerned and appeal to the reason she knew her rebel member of the team still had even in a highly emotional situation. She knew how he appreciated her respect and her appeal to his reputation made him calm down his emotions and make the right decision. As a result, all trainings were delivered on time to the client’s satisfaction.
Case #2. Mark managed a small unit of highly performing project managers. It was his first management assignment. The project managers were self-motivate, driven by results and autonomous. The unit members saw their work environment as “if it is not broken, do not fix it”. Mark had his own ideas and, a project manager himself, tried to impose a different way of doing business by micromanaging and insisting on his projects as ideals to imitate. He was a stranger to his own emotions, had very limited self-awareness and rated poorly on listening skills. He missed the clues from the team. His command and control style was a sign of frustration and insecurity in a role he was not ready to play. The frustration transferred to the project managers and, one by one, they sought better pastures. Mark found himself very soon with a big portfolio at risk of failure, as he could not realistically deliver alone on all projects.
If you are curious about emotional intelligence and self-evaluation tools, follow the link https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2018/2/emotional-intelligence-test-5-self-evaluation-tools-leaders?sc_cid=70160000000cYRWAA2