When times are difficult, leaders are isolated and brought to prominence. A project manager’s push into prominence as a result of the change in the client requirements, the economy, technology, and so on.
The above can apply to project environments. An important concept that any project manager or organization has to comprehend is that people's needs have changed as they are expanding and evolving their perceptions of what is meant to be human in this dynamic global economy. It would be costly and grave for a project manager to miss this concept and become complacent. It is generally understood that people are often more comfortable with old problems rather than new solutions. Today new problems have presented themselves and require new solutions and you best be aware of what is at the essence of them. Some Project Managers have no idea of the giant capacity they can command when they focus their efforts on core values and work to correspondingly align culture. The disconnection between employees and their company.
Great needs call forth great leaders. The emotional intelligence model is a tool for increasing Emotional Intelligence to assist a project manager in creating opportunities for both professional and personal satisfaction, autonomy, value alignment, and innovation, thus effectively and profitably defining, planning, implementing and closing down projects within time, cost and scope.
Model for Emotional Intelligence
There are five components in the model for understanding and raising EI to improve project performance: self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, interpersonal management, and leadership.
Having a low self-awareness can be considered as a handicap. We can refer back to the person with the high IQ but just doesn't get it. It is nearly impossible to make change without awareness. We can infer that with awareness comes responsibility. Self-Awareness is thus the ability to sense, identify and understand emotions. Historically, most of us are conditioned to leave emotions out of it such that when we feel an emotion, we push it aside, only often to regret not having used that knowledge intentionally. There are a number of things that can be done to increase self-awareness in order to unlock the ability to be in the here and now:
- i. Use the physical senses to warn you of your “feelings” such as tightness in stomach, tension in neck.
- ii. Name the feeling—you could be angry, upset, furious or disgruntled. By appreciating the extent of the emotion and the ability to name it helps with perceptive.
- iii. Journal—in the project environment, once a problem has been identified then you can plan how to handle it with some objectivity. It is encouraged to use a journal to monitor and express your feelings in a safe way.
- iv. Get input from others.
- v. It is important to take time to reflect upon the intentions behind your feelings.
It is imperative to not suppress the feelings but to understand then in order to make decisions and take action. The failure to feel the feelings through may result in responding inappropriately, and making poor decisions with unintended consequences. It is only when you acquire high self-awareness that you can fully be confident, authentic, receptive to feedback and able to maintain perspective during all project phases.
From knowing and understanding of ones feelings(self-awareness), the next step is to master the tools of managing ones responses to emotions to be able to use his/her IQ rather than merely reacting.
Even though thought is a relatively recent advancement in the evolution of mankind, the majority of us are more comfortable thinking than feeling. Many million years ago, along the continuum of evolutionary development, the human brain stem took over the responsibility of basic human survival. The urge to feed, to breed and to protect oneself by fighting or running away were reactions to threats instinctively. Million years later the limbic system emerged as a distinct part of the brain. The principle of emotional intelligence is the combination of the emotional centers of the brain called the limbic system and the cognitive centers called prefrontal cortex (Cherniss and Goleman, 2001). It is this “limbic system” that enables the organism to scan for meaning. It is also responsible for the allowance of learning and remembering, not just reacting, the implication being the enhancement of survival prospects. Million years later, the neocortex then developed, giving man the ability to process information and make sense out of his environment and situations. The neocortex is responsible for the management the higher brain functions of reasoning, awareness, voluntary movement and action, conscious thought, and the skill of language. When presented with information, the normal way that data moves is in a path to the rational brain and then to the limbic system in about six seconds. However, when under threat, impulse supersedes reason, retarding the normal process. It only makes sense because if it took six seconds for you to react to an emergency you wouldn’t be able to avoid the accident, the fire, and so on. The short circuit avoids the neocortex where reason exist by going directly to the limbic system to provoke an instant reaction and reserving the thinking for later. This situation is alright for emergencies only and not fit nearly all project circumstances.
Self-Management is about utilizing the understanding of ones feelings to reason well. Our reactions are primarily based upon our distinctive structure of reference rather than choosing our response based upon distinctive situations. However, there are ways to increase your ability to self-manage in order to make choices and to act intentionally:
- i. Identify your values. The guiding principles in life are the values that one holds. Writing them down in order to prioritize them is therefore very important.
- ii. Accept responsibility. We are all responsible for our behavior and responses to life. With this power over our behavior comes the responsibility of accountability. We get to where we are by most of the choices we have made along the way.