Project Leadership Success: Responsibilities, Competencies and Behaviors That Produce Positive Results – Part 6 of 10

Competencies:  Applying Emotional Intelligence

There was a time when intelligence quotient (IQ) was considered the leading determinant of success. In Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman argues that our IQ-idolizing view of intelligence is far too narrow. Instead, Goleman makes the case for Emotional Intelligence (EI)—a subcategory of social intelligence—as being a strong indicator of an individual’s ability to lead successfully.

 To achieve a more succinct definition, the authors John Mayer and Peter Salovey identified the following attributes as the key elements comprising EI:

• Self-Awareness: The ability to recognize emotional components in one’s thoughts or physical states, as in noticing feelings, labeling them, and connecting them to their source.

• Social-Awareness: The ability to recognize emotional components behind another’s communications, often through sound, appearance, or behavior.

• Self-Management: The ability to recognize and accurately communicate information without undue influence from one’s emotions.

• Relationship Management: The ability to have (and exhibit) sensitivity to another’s feelings and concerns. (from Palmer, Benjamin, Walls, M., & Burgess, Z., Emotional intelligence and effective leadership, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 22, #1, pgs. 5-10, 2001.)

 According to Mayer and Salovey, there is a direct relationship between Emotional Intelligence and effective leadership. A leader with high EI will create an environment where people feel liked and respected—where they enjoy their work and feel better about the organization.

 The key to strong EI is having a balanced and appropriate approach to emotions. For leaders, especially when under stress, taking a moment to consider EI can be helpful and even essential. To this end, leaders should adapt their emotions to facilitate better communication with team members and colleagues. Along these same lines, understanding how emotions impact communication—and then managing that impact—can eliminate unnecessary or unproductive responses. In particular, EI is a key to being successful in responding to, and interacting with, team members.

 Numerous tests and questionnaires can be used to help explore one’s EI, and they are widely available in book form and online. The information gathered from these sources can facilitate efforts toward establishing a benchmark for the improvement of one’s EI.


As with the Responsibilities aspect of the RCB approach detailed in Blogs 1, 2, and 3, the topics of Blogs 4, 5, and 6—Competencies—represents another building block to project leadership success. Effective communication, decisiveness, and the ability to identify and employ Emotional Intelligence when dealing with others are critical competencies that need to be cultivated by successful project leaders.  Join me for my next posts as the Project Leadership Success series concludes with the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th installments – the Behaviors project managers need to embrace as part of the RCB approach to successful project leadership.

James L. Haner

To learn more about EI, download our podcast interview with Larry T. BarnardThe Role of Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Workplace.

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