For us, the idea that there might be a new angle to project management and its environment is attractive. Perhaps there is still something new to be learned, something that can help us improve our personal performance, especially with people. Certainly, author Anthony Mersino, seems to think so in his book Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers. But first, Anthony starts out with a bold but humble confession:
"Writing a book was a lot more work than I had imagined, and it is not something that I could have done on my own. I am extremely grateful to all those people who graciously invested their time and energy to help me with my personal growth and with this book."
It seems to us that this is pretty representative of any warm-blooded project manager's project!
And, it appears that Anthony also received valuable advice, for he adds:
"Rajesh Setty was instrumental in pointing out that I was better off to begin writing than to continue planning to write."
Well, there is a time and place for everything and we agree that planning can be overdone, especially if it becomes an excuse for not actually starting. We have had correspondents who have solicited our support in developing a plan for a book and each year over several years have sent us an ever more elaborate plan. But in the end, that is as far as it got - nothing every surfaced. Still, the right amount of planning is essential if unnecessary rework and wheel spinning is to be avoided.
What is "emotional intelligence" you may ask? It is one of those woolly concepts that is based on the notion that the ability of managers to understand their own emotions, and those of the people they work with, is the key to better business performance. There are other definitions but this seems the most relevant to this introduction. So what triggered Anthony's interest in this topic was, as he says:
"On some level I recognized that the way I approached work wasn't always effective. Hard work did not always make the difference in the outcomes of the projects I managed. I wondered how others seemed to succeed with less effort."
That seems to fly in the face of the beliefs of the older generation who were taught that success flows from practice and hard work.
However, as for many of us, Anthony's revelation came as a result of something of a personal crisis. He reports:
"I began to see a connection between my lack of emotional awareness and my limited success in project management. Up to that point, my project management career had been a bumpy road. While not quite a dead end street, my career path hadn't exactly taken a superhighway either. Lately that road didn't seem to be taking me anywhere. I had recently been passed over for a key promotion at Unisys. My career ladder had literally run out of rungs. Perhaps I had been promoted to my level of incompetence and was therefore living proof of the Peter Principle."
Anthony goes on to explain:
"[I learned that] was largely the result of my project management style as a task master. I was all business. Unfortunately, I placed a higher value on tasks, productivity, and outcomes than on relationships. I lacked empathy."
"After spending most of the last five years working on my emotional intelligence, I am happy to report that my career has benefitted significantly."
What follows is a description of how Anthony set about personal change, and the immediate benefits he experienced in how to motivate his project team and, as a result, his increasing responsibilities with even larger and more critical projects.
1. Mersino, A., Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers, AMACOM, NY, 2007, p vii
3. Learning Center: Glossary of Management Terms, http://catalystconsultingpartners.com/glossary.html accessed 11/11/09
4. Mersino, p3
5. Ibid, p4. The Peter Principle states that: "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise.