Emotional Maturity of Project Managers
BY SHRIKANT DEO
Significant work has been done on defining “Emotional Intelligence” or “Emotional Quotient” (EI or EQ) and its application in business management. I would like to take a step forward and define “Emotional Maturity” (EM). The key difference between EI and EM is individualistic vs. team. EI
is about individual performance and how a person deals with situations using emotions. On the other hand, EM
is about how a leader responds or reacts to emotions expressed by team members and manages emotions to achieve success for the entire team.
In the past few years, there has been a distinct shift from manual to intelligent work. Innovative ideas are crucial for any organization to stay ahead of its competition. The key to innovation is smart ideas coming from the team. It is necessary to find and retain team members with smart ideas and give them the right environment.
Smarter people are usually emotionally sensitive. If the leader of such a team does not handle diverse emotions of the group, things can go wrong. Hence, project managers play a crucial role in making or breaking the innovation culture in a group.
Emotional Maturity Skills for Project Managers
Building a Team
- Cognitive ability—It is the ability to recognize the emotional status of a person during interaction. After understanding the emotional status, steer the interactions with that person accordingly. This is particularly true for face-to-face interactions. Even in telephone conversations, emotions can be easily perceived.
- Response to emotions—It is the ability to react to emotions expressed by another person. One must react in an emotionally mature way to these emotions. An emotionally mature response is often confused with being indifferent toward other person’s emotions, but it is exactly the opposite.
- Evoking emotions—When the situation demands, one should be able to evoke emotions of the team member(s) to raise the performance. Each team member has different emotional traits, and a good project manager must know when and how to use those to motivate the person to perform his/her best.
While selecting people for a new team, apart from technical and soft skills required, the project manager must evaluate new team members on their EQ and compatibility with each other.
It may be good to have outspoken, aggressive people in the team, but too many of them can lead to discontent and chaos. One should check personality traits of team members so that those match with each other in order to create a team culture. At the start of the project, the project manager must have a clear dialogue with the team to ensure that right expectations are set. Reactions from team members, including nonverbal (facial expressions), should be noted so that you can anticipate risks well.
Creating Team Culture
The project manager can use the following ways to build a team culture:
- Personal connections—He/she should have regular individual interactions with each team member. These help build a personal connection that minimizes friction during official interactions.
- Unofficial channels—These channels help the project manager to gauge the undercurrents within the team and act before they influence the team’s morale. A fine balance is needed to keep the team culture intact.
- Organize team-building exercises—These events get team members together beyond work. Bonds developed during such events are helpful during work and go a long way in fostering a team culture.
The future workplace is all about innovation and team dynamics. The project manager of the future needs to be emotionally mature to handle these.
(Shrikant Deo is a senior project manager at one of the largest IT companies in India. He has more eight years of project management experience and has managed diverse IT projects and programs in the US, the UK, Australia, and India.)