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Emotional Intelligence in Project Management – A Brief Overview

09 Nov 2023
Emotional Intelligence in Project Management – A Brief Overview

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand our own emotions and the emotions of others around us. It's a critical skill for anyone to have, but especially in project management.   

Brain with illustration of Emotional Intelligence

Many things can go wrong during the execution of a project. Mismanaged emotions are one of the reasons behind failed projects. Planning and execution are essential management skills. However, the ability to understand, sense, and carefully manage our emotions throughout the process matters most in achieving personal and professional goals.   

Making calculated and thoughtful decisions impacts the whole project and the people contributing to its success. Teams that maintain high performance are known to have better EI.   

In this article, we will talk about the components of EI and its importance. Additionally, we will provide some tips for improving EI as a project manager. We hope you explore this insightful information that will help you understand more about EI to manage projects better and be competitive. 

Components of EI

Below are the five core components of EI:

Illustration of Emotional Intelligence components

1. Self-Management

If we make decisions in a hurry, they can be something we regret later. The repercussions of wrong decisions often haunt us in the aftermath. It is psychologically proven that people tend to shift blame to others and often criticise them if they fail in things they are trying to achieve.  

Emotionally intelligent people don't do such things. They think before they speak and act upon something. In an intense argument, we may feel the urge to react more aggressively. EI allows us to keep a calm and collected mind and think twice before reacting.   

One must constantly self-analyse and question, "Will my reaction cause any good change in the current situation?" If the answer is no, then don't react at all. Avoid saying things that you may regret later. 

2. Self-Awareness

This component of EI includes the control of our feelings and appropriately managing them. We can only make progress with high self-awareness. Managing emotions surrounding changing circumstances is challenging, and we need solid self-awareness. When we are conscious of our own emotions and how they may affect our thinking, we can work effectively without suppressing our emotions.  

When we push our emotions aside and keep working on a task, we suppress those emotions. The reason for this could be either the fear of dealing with such emotions or just ignoring our gut feelings. The emotions never go away if not dealt with care. These unresolved emotions eventually hit us someday. Therefore, it's better to identify and deal with them immediately when facing the situation. 

3. Self-Motivation

Emotionally intelligent project managers tend to be self-motivated. There should be a drive and passion to deliver successful projects. If a person is great at managing emotions and is aware of them but isn't motivated enough to ensure the desired result, it eventually causes problems.  

Self-motivated project managers are driven and hyper-focused when delivering quality projects. They don't get stressed by looking at the big picture and then lose all motivation to achieve their goals. Instead, they break down the big picture into small and achievable goals.   

Any team working on a project must have a purpose. Purpose gives the power to generate the required emotions to deliver desired outcomes—those who lack self-motivation doubt their abilities and get discouraged easily. 

4. Social Skills

This skill set refers to the ability to build strong relationships, communicate effectively, and build mindfulness. Presence is a crucial factor to consider because if you constantly shy away from present situations, it will make a wrong impression on project stakeholders.  

Social awareness is essential. If you can't understand emotional shifts in other people while they're communicating with you, you'll miss the key points of their perception of the project. When you miss the key points, you'll find it difficult to resolve conflicts with other people.  

Practising active listening and positive body language while communicating with others often contributes to sharpening social skills. 

5. Empathy

The fifth and final component of EI is empathy. Those who have higher EI are empathetic. Empathy refers to the ability to sense things from another person's perspective. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes will give you an idea of their feelings. 

Having empathy not only helps us meet the expectations of stakeholders but also allows us to effectively build and grow our team effectively. 

STK - A perfect course for developing emotional intelligence

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Project Management

Research conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) indicates that projects led by emotionally intelligent project managers have a higher success rate than those managed without a focus on EI1.

EI has the power to create a massive impact not just on you but your whole project team, as well as on all project stakeholders. As a project manager, you must understand that delivering a successful project requires challenging work.

EI is the skill that contributes to delivering successful projects and keeping the team and stakeholders happy. Not everyone is born with high EI; it's a skill we develop over time. EI is what allows project managers to be successful leaders.  

If you are a project manager, you know that conflicts between team members and stakeholders are normal. However, having a high EI helps in de-escalating the situation. You can listen to both sides of the conflict and help find the best solution for both parties.  

Having a high EI should be a top priority if you want to become a successful project manager. Building a strong emotional connection with team members creates value. The success of the project also depends on the openness of team members with each other. This creates a positive environment where everyone can elaborate their thoughts and ideas. 

Tips for Bettering Emotional Intelligence as a Project Manager

Below are some valuable tips you can use to improve your EI as a project manager:

  • Be reflective and self-aware of your actions. Keep a little time aside to reflect upon situations when you performed better and didn't perform as expected.  
  • Ask for feedback from team members about your strengths and weaknesses.  
  • Do self-introspection and be accountable for the actions you perform. Observe how you feel in different situations.  
  • Keep a journal to keep track of all useful conversations. You'll start to understand your specific EI patterns in varying situations. This way, you can track a specific trigger or habit that may hinder your ability to perform emotionally better.  
  • Find ways to regulate your emotions appropriately.   
  • Be mindful because it helps in being socially aware.   
  • Be cautious of what non-verbal actions you use while communicating with others.  
  • Try to be more empathetic.  
  • Don't limit yourself. Contribute to working with others as well. 


Emotionally intelligent project managers not only engage with their team's minds but hearts as well. Having high EI not only helps us manage our emotions but helps us manage the emotions of people around us. If project managers are emotionally intelligent, they are best placed to complete projects successfully and overcome any emotional challenges that come their way. 

Reference Literature:

1 Project Management Institute (PMI). 2009. "Emotional Intelligence."