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Why Emotional Intelligence Is an Important Quality for Leadership?

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • February 9, 2022

Emotional IntelligenceEmotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your feelings while also being conscientious of how your moods and actions affect others. It also means being understanding and empathetic of other people’s emotions at the same time. 

It’s important for people in leadership roles and other positions of power to effectively convey emotional intelligence skills, especially in the workplace. This skill is a capability that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can help establish strong working relationships. 

Why Emotional Intelligence in Project Managers Is Essential?

We expect project managers to lead by example. Being in an authoritative position comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Whether they realize it or not, people in leadership roles are often admired by their subordinates. The level of emotional intelligence exhibited by team leaders and project managers often sets the tone for the working relationship within the entire department or organization. 

Managing a team doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re never allowed to express any emotion at work. It simply means you have to be aware of which emotions you’re expressing, whether they’re appropriate in a professional setting, and how your emotions impact your team on an individual and group level.  

High-stress situations are sometimes unavoidable in the workplace. But if a team leader is constantly letting their emotions get the best of them and lashing out at their employees as a result, then this can create an incredibly toxic work culture. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some leaders are cold, emotionally unavailable, or distant. This distancing can lead to a lack of trust and even motivation to work hard and do well in the workplace. When it comes to emotional intelligence and performance, it’s essential to find the right balance as a team leader. 

How Emotional Intelligence Issues Exhibited by Project Managers Impact a Team?

Everything you do as a team leader or project manager directly or indirectly impacts your team as a whole. Displaying emotional intelligence issues can negatively impact your team in the following ways. 

1. Poor Decision-Making Skills

The inability to control your emotions in high-stress situations can lead to making rash decisions or indecision when it comes to important workplace matters. Both are qualities that are indicative of weak leadership. Negative emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment are entirely normal when things go wrong at work. But you can’t let them cloud your judgment and keep you from thinking clearly when you’re dealing with a crisis. Sometimes, it helps to take a breather to collect your thoughts and regain your composure before making important decisions in the workplace

2. Discourages Team Members from Contributing or Sharing Ideas During Meetings

Employees look to team leaders and project managers for guidance in the workplace. Witnessing authority figures behaving abrasively or losing control of their emotions puts the rest of the team ill at ease. Not only does this lead to a toxic work environment for everyone, but it also discourages employees from contributing and sharing their ideas. 

3. Has a Negative Impact on Team Communication

A lack of emotional intelligence in project managers and team leaders can manifest itself in many different ways throughout the organization, namely a lack of communication among employees. Team members need to collaborate to effectively work together toward a common goal or complete tasks. But it’s impossible to be productive in a hostile work environment where people are too afraid or uncomfortable to communicate openly with one another. Tensions can quickly arise when people don’t communicate with one another in the workplace, which leads to many misunderstandings. 

4. Employees Show Resistance to Change

Another fallout of demonstrating a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace is that your employees may respond in a similar fashion. Exhibiting negative emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment regularly will inevitably lead to more negative outcomes in the workplace. Negativity can be a contagious trait that spreads to your employees. It lowers employee morale, productivity, and makes it harder to adapt to new situations at work and in life. 

5. Lower Performance Quality and Higher Turnaround Rates

Morale declines significantly when employees don’t feel appreciated or valued in the workplace. A toxic work environment directly impacts the quality of employee performance and, eventually, increases the turnaround rate of your company. High employee turnaround costs your company a lot of money, and it makes new candidates reluctant to work for you.

How Project Managers Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence?

1. Check-in with Yourself Regularly

Introspection is an effective method of understanding your emotions, what makes you tick, and how you can better manage your demeanour. Perform periodic self-evaluations daily or weekly to ensure that you’re in a positive headspace to lead a team of professionals. 

2. Keep a Positive Attitude and Self-Confidence

Positivity and self-confidence are just as contagious as negativity and self-doubt. Feeling confident in your leadership skills will encourage others to feel the same way. It also makes them feel more confident in their abilities when they have a project manager who emotionally and professionally supports their growth. 

3. Start Listening to Your Team More

You should have been doing this all along. But if you haven’t been taking the time to listen to your team members about improving workplace practices, then start doing so now. Brush up on your active listening skills. Showing your team that you respect them will elicit respect in return and encourage a more collaborative and productive work culture. 

4. Keep Your Personal and Professional Life Separate

As harsh as this may sound, the workplace isn’t the right time or place to air your dirty laundry. It’s a place of business, and people are there to work. Allowing your problems to hamper your professional endeavours will only slow down your entire team. It also shows a lack of decorum and professionalism in the workplace. It’s up to the team leader or project manager to set the standard for professional behaviour in the workplace, and keeping your personal life separate is a good place to start. 

Learn How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence and Team Performance by Strengthening Your Leadership Skills

Participating in one of the many professional leadership workshops offered by The Soft Skills Group benefits both project leaders, employees, and organizations as a whole. Book your spot now to learn how honing your emotional intelligence skills in the workplace can help you build stronger working relationships with your employees. 

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More