Projects are fast-paced, hectic things. Managers might be quick to assign tasks and send everyone off to the races. Sometimes, that cannot be helped, and on little tasks, it may not even be a big deal. But on the whole, great leaders will remember to take a timeout and reflect on if they are using enough emotional intelligence in the way they manage their teams and themselves.
Emotional intelligence, I think, is ultimately an extension of common sense: People like to be made to feel good. They do not like to be made to feel bad. And there are right and wrong ways to talk to people when managers need them to do something.
Of course, emotional intelligence is more complicated than just being polite or trying not to hurt people’s feelings. It is an ongoing state of perceiving people’s feelings and body language and trying to understand what motivates or demotivates them, which is all actually very complicated. It is sometimes even more complicated for us to gauge our own emotions, which is another major aspect of emotional intelligence. But the point is that great leaders make the effort to try and keep trying. They want to set up their teams for success, and they do that by simply watching and listening for what makes their individual team members tick.
And—again—this really does sound like a case of common sense: When we observe things, we learn things. The only problem is that not enough leaders are remembering to take that important timeout to do the observing. This problem is much more insidious than it appears too, because it is entirely possible for projects to succeed with a lack of emotional intelligence. What will not be as easily seen are the intangible costs—to the team that has been demoralized, and perhaps to ourselves, since we have unconsciously closed our eyes to self-improvement.