Leadership is one of the most important and essential factors in good project management. Leadership can be seen as the art of influencing others to achieve desired results. Leaders guide behaviours by setting the vision, direction and the key processes; in other words, leadership has a large influence on the whole project process, including the actions of others (Xiong, 2008).
While on the other hand according to Mary Parker Follet, 'Management is the art of getting things done through people '(Ideas on Management).This has been widely accepted as the four management functions: Planning, Leading, Organising and Controlling of resources in an organization. Peter Drucker divided the job of the manager into five basic tasks. The manager, he wrote:
' Sets objectives. The manager sets goals for the group, and decides what work needs to be done to meet those goals.
' Organizes. The manager divides the work into manageable activities, and selects people to accomplish the tasks that need to be done.
' Motivates and communicates. The manager creates a team out of his people, through decisions on pay, placement, promotion, and through his communications with the team.
' Measures. The manager establishes appropriate targets and yardsticks, and analyzes, appraises and interprets performance.
' Develops people. With the rise of the knowledge worker, this task has taken on added importance. In a knowledge economy, people are the company's most important asset, and it is up to the manager to develop that asset.(Wall Street Journal)
When it comes to Project Management, the PMBOK Guide (2000 Edition) describes it as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to meet project requirements. It further elaborates that this is achieved through the use of five project management processes such as: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. These processes are quite similar to the four management functions (P-L-O-C) but differ with the exclusion and inclusion of the Leading and Closing off components, respectively. Herein then lies the difference between and focus of functional management and project management.
This paper will focus on Leadership in the project management context as opposed to Management to highlight the need for the special skill sets that project leaders and managers can offer to an organization or a project.
Leadership within the project management context
a) What is similar and what is unique about being a leader within the project management landscape?
Managing people in the work place requires that one possess a set of skills and attributes that will enable one to achieve set targets through others. Both line and project managers get to lead a group or individuals who may directly or indirectly report to them. The challenge in the latter is how the project manager gets to achieve accountability from the employees who do not report to him, as he cannot discipline or offer them incentives.
From my own experience having worked as an operational manager before joining the project environment, I observed that the line manager regardless of his skills and attributes, can still 'swing the stick' or 'dangle the carrot' to get the desired performance from his team. But the question to ask with this approach is the sustainability and effect to team morale and performance. It can be argued that a leader may use this approach and get the desired effects; while on the other hand the opposite may hold true as well, that the leader who inspires and motivates his team gets the best out of the team and gains their trust.
As Project Managers we tend to rely on the tools, procedures and processes of project management to handle our projects, while neglecting the interpersonal or soft skills required in leading and managing people. Operations management can be seen as relying on the soft skills or interpersonal skills and abilities of the manager together with the use of P-L-O-C to get the desired results. While the project manager Plans, Executes and Controls, he neglects the human interaction and effort required to Lead the team in the right direction.Thus with project management the focus has always been on the individual's technical abilities and skills in the particular field of specialisation while in a non-project environment the focus is on the leadership skills of the manager to get results through a high performing team.
From my own observation and experience of working with engineers and specialists who are appointed as project managers, I have seen those who have superior knowledge of the tools, techniques and procedures of project management and compared their effectiveness with those project leaders with a focus on people skills.
I have personally felt and seen the negative impact on the group dynamic when the leader thinks he can carry the project solely on his prowess as an expert.
The team who works under such a leader never gets to make decisions by themselves as the leader thinks he has all the knowledge to carry the project through while undermining the team. The employees become demotivated and leave the manager to take the decisions and responsibility, as they have lost interest in the project.
The project leader who also has a great deal of technical skills but focuses more on motivating and building team members' confidences gets a lot done and gains the respect and trust of his employees. This type of leader seems to be more composed and in control while not seeking to exercise control over his team. The employees under him are allowed to take decisions over their own work and never look for excuses not to get the work done and seem to work out of a loyalty to both the leader and organisation.
Thus the risk organisations take with employing technical experts with no or limited management experience is the loss of employee morale, employee turnover and projects that are never completed on time. Though it makes sense for the employer to hire an Engineer to head up a project management team involved in engineering projects, it also requires that one looks at the person's ability to manage and get along with others.
Difference between Leadership and Management
The human resource management website,go2Hr,state that successful business owners need to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success. Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision and to work with you to achieve your goals while managing is more about administering and making sure the day-to-day things are happening as they should.
While there are many traits that make up a strong leader, some of the key characteristics are:
' Honesty & Integrity: are crucial to get your people to believe you and buy in to the journey you are taking them on
' Vision: know where you are, where you want to go and enrol your team in charting a path for the future
' Inspiration: inspire your team to be all they can by making sure they understand their role in the bigger picture
' Ability to Challenge: do not be afraid to challenge the status quo, do things differently and have the courage to think outside the box
' Communication Skills: keep your team informed of the journey, where you are, where you are heading and share any roadblocks you may encounter along the way (go2hr.com).
Some of the common traits shared by strong managers are:
' Being Able to Execute a Vision: take a strategic vision and break it down into a roadmap to be followed by the team
' Ability to Direct: day-to-day work efforts, review resources needed and anticipate needs along the way
' Process Management: establish work rules, processes, standards and operating procedures
' People Focused: look after your people, their needs, listen to them and involve them (go2hr.com).
Leadership in Project Management
If a project manager has successfully merged management and leadership qualities, their chances of success will greatly improve. The success of projects relies critically on the effectiveness of their leadership (Thomas & Bendoly 2009).
A project manager is defined as 'The individual who provides leadership to the project team to accomplish the project objective' (Gido, 2009, p. 302). This definition uses the team leadership but it doesn't embellish on what kind of leadership the PM would provide. In The Guide to
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK'' Guide), the Project Management Institute (PMI) explains that leadership is 'establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring people to overcome political, bureaucratic, and resource barriers.' And 'Developing a vision and strategy, and motivating people to achieve that vision and strategy.'(Project Management Institute (PMI), 2008).
Toor and Ofori (2008) cited; 'management is about controlling, supervising, skills application, caretaking, and coping with prevailing circumstances.' Today, project managers are viewed as the people who are going to be implementing corporate strategies and the multitude of different objectives. If a project manager is going to be successful at these tasks, they must be able to handle both leadership and management tasks. 'Project managers have a two-pronged responsibility in managing a project: the technical components of the project'plans, schedules, budgets, statistical analysis, and monitoring and control involved in the various knowledge areas and processes - and managing the people in such a way to motivate the team to successful completion of the project goals (Neuhauser, C. 2007).
Project managers need to develop leadership skills that will support and offer direction to their team. One crucial skill to have is problem solving in project management. Every project undertaken is always different to the previous; therefore meaning a chance of different things going wrong that need to be solved. More often these issues will need to be corrected very quickly and with less impact to the project budget or resources.
Human resource development is another aspect that a project leader needs to focus on. A lot of organisations need their project managers to develop employees. Gido and Clement state that 'The effective project manager has a commitment to the training and development of people working on the project. He or she uses the project as an opportunity to add value to each person's experience base so that all members of the project team are more knowledgeable and competent at the end of the project than when they started it' (Gido, 2009, p. 307).
In their article entitled 'Do Project Managers' Leadership Competencies Contribute to Project Success', Geoghegan and Dulewicz determine which leadership traits generally result in project success. They broke these competencies into 3 different dimensions of leadership including intellectual competencies, social/emotional competencies and managerial competencies. Social and emotional competencies include self-awareness, emotional resilience, intuitiveness, sensitivity, influencing, motivating and conscientiousness. Managerial competencies include resource management, communication, empowering, developing and achieving. 'Using project success factors as a measure of success, these correlations begin to uncover the specific leadership dimensions that contribute to successful projects' (Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008).
At the end of their research, Geoghegan & Dulewicz stated that 'certain leadership dimensions demonstrate a positive relationship with certain project success variables. Identifying such relationships provides the company with a possible project improvement model where increased capability in a leadership dimension can lead to increased success in aspects of project implementation' (Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008)
Essential Leadership qualities for Project Management
According to Timothy Barry of Project Times, a successful project leader needs to have the following leadership qualities in order to manage projects and project teams effectively in the organisation:
a) Inspire a Shared Vision
He states that an effective project leader is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Visionaries thrive on change and being able to draw new boundaries. It was once said that a leader is someone who "lifts us up, gives us a reason for being and gives the vision and spirit to change." Visionary leaders enable people to feel they have a real stake in the project. They empower people to experience the vision on their own. According to Bennis "They offer people opportunities to create their own vision, to explore what the vision will mean to their jobs and lives, and to envision their future as part of the vision for the organization." (Bennis, 1997)
b) Good Communication
He cites that the ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.
There is a great deal of value placed on openness and directness. The project leader is also the team's link to the larger organization. The leader must have the ability to effectively negotiate and use persuasion when necessary to ensure the success of the team and project. Through effective communication, project leaders support individual and team achievements by creating explicit guidelines for accomplishing results and for the career advancement of team members.
One of the most important things a project leader must remember is that his or her actions, and not words, set the modus operandi for the team. Good leadership demands commitment to, and demonstration of, ethical practices. Creating standards for ethical behavior for oneself and living by these standards, as well as rewarding those who exemplify these practices, are responsibilities of project leaders. Leadership motivated by self-interest does not serve the wellbeing of the team. Leadership based on integrity represents nothing less than a set of values others share, behavior consistent with values and dedication to honesty with self and team members. In other words the leader "walks the talk" and in the process earns trust.
Plain and simple, we don't like leaders who are negative - they bring us down. We want leaders with enthusiasm, with a bounce in their step, with a can-do attitude. We want to believe that we are part of an invigorating journey - we want to feel alive. We tend to follow people with a can-do attitude, not those who give us 200 reasons why something can't be done. Enthusiastic leaders are committed to their goals and express this commitment through optimism. Leadership emerges as someone expresses such confident commitment to a project that others want to share his or her optimistic expectations. Enthusiasm is contagious and effective leaders know it.
What is the difference between empathy and sympathy? Although the words are similar, they are, in fact, mutually exclusive. According to Norman Paul, in sympathy the subject is principally absorbed in his or her own feelings as they are projected into the object and has little concern for the reality and validity of the object's special experience. Empathy, on the other hand, presupposes the existence of the object as a separate individual, entitled to his or her own feelings, ideas and emotional history (Paul, 1970). As one student so eloquently put it, "It's nice when a project leader acknowledges that we all have a life outside of work."
Simply put, to enlist in another's cause, we must believe that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not however necessarily refer to the project leader's technical abilities in the core technology of the business. As project management continues to be recognized as a field in and of itself, project leaders will be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on technical expertise, as in the past. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent. Expertise in leadership skills is another dimension in competence. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage must be demonstrated if leaders are to be seen as capable and competent.
g) Ability to Delegate Tasks
Trust is an essential element in the relationship of a project leader and his or her team. You demonstrate your trust in others through your actions - how much you check and control their work, how much you delegate and how much you allow people to participate. Individuals who are unable to trust other people often fail as leaders and forever remain little more that micro-managers, or end up doing all of the work themselves. As one project management student put it, "A good leader is a little lazy." An interesting perspective!
h) Cool Under Pressure
In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget and with no major problems or obstacles to overcome. But we don't live in a perfect world - projects have problems. A leader with a hardy attitude will take these problems in stride. When leaders encounter a stressful event, they consider it interesting, they feel they can influence the outcome and they see it as an opportunity. "Out of the uncertainty and chaos of change, leaders rise up and articulate a new image of the future that pulls the project together." (Bennis 1997) And remember - never let them see you sweat.
i) Team-Building Skills
A team builder can best be defined as a strong person who provides the substance that holds the team together in common purpose toward the right objective. In order for a team to progress from a group of strangers to a single cohesive unit, the leader must understand the process and dynamics required for this transformation. He or she must also know the appropriate leadership style to use during each stage of team development. The leader must also have an understanding of the different team players styles and how to capitalize on each at the proper time, for the problem at hand.
j) Problem Solving Skills
Although an effective leader is said to share problem-solving responsibilities with the team, we expect our project leaders to have excellent problem-solving skills themselves. They have a "fresh, creative response to here-and-now opportunities," and not much concern with how others have performed them. (Kouzes 1987)
From the above cited list of qualities, we see that this requires that the project manager rises above the conventional way of managing and be a visionary and technically competent individual with the ability lead a project team and deliver projects successfully. This also shows why so many organisations that are at an advanced level of project management place a high value on project managers as people that can drive company strategy and bring profits to the organisation.
b) Leadership Theories: Situational Leadership Theory and Transactional Leadership Theory
The Situational Leadership Theory
Shawn Grimsley explains that according to Situational Leadership Theory, a leader's effectiveness is contingent on his ability to modify his management behavior to the level of his subordinates' maturity or sophistication.
Hershey and Blanchard suggested that there are four primary leadership styles based on the levels of directive and supportive behavior. The style a leader uses under situational leadership is based upon combining levels of directive behavior and supportive behavior. You can think of directive behavior as an order and supportive behavior as providing support or guidance.
Hersey and Blanchard stated the four different leadership behaviors as follows:
1. Telling/Directing (S1) is where the leader demonstrates high directive behavior and low supportive behavior
This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have low willingness and low ability for the task at hand. When the followers cannot do the job and are unwilling or afraid to try, then the leader must take a highly directive role. Directing requires those in charge to define the roles and tasks of the followers, and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by those in charge and communication is one-way. If the leader focused more on the relationship in this situation, the followers would become confused about what must be done and what is optional. Directing is often used when the issue is serious or comes with drastic consequences if not successful. The leader maintains a directive position to ensure all required actions are completed
2. Selling/Coaching (S2) is where the leader demonstrates high directive behavior and high supportive behavior
This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have high willingness but low ability for the task at hand. Like Directing, Coaching still requires leaders to define roles and tasks clearly, but the leader seeks ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way. Followers needing coaching require direction and supervision because they are still relatively inexperienced, but they also need support and praise to build their self-esteem, and involvement in decision-making to restore their commitment. While Coaching, the leader spends time listening, advising, and helping the follower gain necessary skills in order to do the task autonomously next time.
3. Participating/Supporting (S3) is where the leader demonstrates low directive behavior and high supportive behavior
This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have low willingness but high ability for the task at hand. Supportive leadership works when the follower can do the job, but is refusing to do it or showing a lack of commitment. The leader need not worry about showing them what to do, but instead should be concerned with finding out why the followers are refusing and work to persuade them to cooperate. The key to supportive leadership is motivating and building confidence in people! Clarification on the details of the process won't matter, as the follower already knows what to do but lacks the motivation to act. Supportive leadership involves listening, giving praise and making the followers feel good when they show the necessary commitments for success.
4. Delegating (S4) is where the leader demonstrates low directive behavior and low supportive behavior
This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have high willingness and high ability. Leaders should rely on delegating when the follower can do the job and is motivated to do it. There is a high amount of trust that the follower will do well, and the follower requires little supervision or support. Delegating still keeps the leader involved in the decisions and problem-solving, but execution is mostly in the hands of the followers. Because the follower has the most control, he is responsible for communicating information back up to the leader. Followers at this level have less need for support or frequent praise, although as with anyone, occasional recognition is always encouraged.
A follower's overall maturity for the purposes of situational leadership theory is a function of two components. A follower's task maturity is the ability of a follower to perform the task. A follower's psychological maturity represents the follower's willingness to perform a task. The leader's function is to determine the level of a follower's task and psychological maturity. Once the leader determines a follower's overall level of maturity, the leader should adjust his behavior in a way that most effectively manages the follower's behavior in light of the follower's maturity. More mature employees require less direction and support, while employees with less maturity require more direction and support (Grimsley, study.com).
The right style of leadership to choose depends a lot on the maturity level (i.e. the level of knowledge and competence) of the individuals or group.
Hershey and Blanchard's theory identifies four different levels of maturity
' M1: Group members lack the knowledge, skills, and willingness to complete the task.
' M2: Group members are willing and enthusiastic, but lack the ability.
' M3: Group members have the skills and capability to complete the task, but are unwilling to take responsibility.
' M4: Group members are highly skilled and willing to complete the task.
The Hershey-Blanchard model suggests that the following leadership styles are the most appropriate for these maturity levels:
' Low Maturity (M1) - Telling (S1)
' Medium Maturity (M2) - Selling (S2)
' Medium Maturity (M3) - Participating (S3)
' High Maturity (M4) - Delegating (S4)
Table 2: Situational Leadership model
Gill (2011) notes that a more "telling" style may be necessary at the beginning of a project when followers lack the responsibility or knowledge to work on their own. As subordinates become more experienced and knowledgeable, however, the leader may want to shift into a more delegating approach. This model of leadership focuses on flexibility so that leaders are able to adapt according to the needs of their followers and the demands of the situation.
Nevarez, Wood and Penrose (2013) also note that the situation approach to leadership avoids the pitfalls of the single-style approach. This theory of leadership recognizes that there are many different ways of dealing with a problem and that leaders need to be able to assess a situation and the maturity levels of subordinates in order to determine what approach will be the most effective at any given moment.
The Transactional Leadership Theory
Spahr (2014) notes that Transactional leadership focuses on results, conforms to the existing structure of an organization and measures success according to that organization's system of rewards and penalties. Transactional leaders have formal authority and positions of responsibility in an organization. This type of leader is responsible for maintaining routine by managing individual performance and facilitating group performance.
She cites further that this type of leader sets the criteria for their workers according to previously defined requirements. Performance reviews are the most common way to judge employee performance. Transactional, or managerial, leaders work best with employees who know their jobs and are motivated by the reward-penalty system. The status quo of an organization is maintained through transactional leadership. The difference between transactional leadership and transformational leadership is also quite large. Simply put, transactional is a 'telling' leadership style, and transformational is a 'selling' style. While the transactional approach features positive and negative reinforcement, transformational leadership emphasizes motivation and inspiration. Transactional leaders are reactive; transformational leaders are proactive. Transactional leadership appeals to the self-interest of individuals, while the transformational style prioritizes group progress.
A transactional leader is someone who values order and structure. They are likely to command military operations, manage large corporations, or lead international projects that require rules and regulations to complete objectives on time or move people and supplies in an organized way. Transactional leaders are not a good fit for places where creativity and innovative ideas are valued. Transactional leadership is most often compared to transformational leadership. Transactional leadership depends on self-motivated people who work well in a structured, directed environment. By contrast, transformational leadership seeks to motivate and inspire workers, choosing to influence rather than direct others (Spahr, 2014).
According to ManagementStudyGuide.com, Transactional leadership involves motivating and directing followers primarily through appealing to their own self-interest. The power of transactional leaders comes from their formal authority and responsibility in the organization. The main goal of the follower is to obey the instructions of the leader. The style can also be mentioned as a 'telling style'. The leader believes in motivating through a system of rewards and punishment. If a subordinate does what is desired, a reward will follow, and if he does not go as per the wishes of the leader, a punishment will follow. Here, the exchange between leader and follower takes place to achieve routine performance goals.
These exchanges involve four dimensions:
Contingent Rewards: Transactional leaders link the goal to rewards, clarify expectations, provide necessary resources, set mutually agreed upon goals, and provide various kinds of rewards for successful performance. They set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals for their subordinates.
Active Management by Exception: Transactional leaders actively monitor the work of their subordinates, watch for deviations from rules and standards and taking corrective action to prevent mistakes.
Passive Management by Exception: Transactional leaders intervene only when standards are not met or when the performance is not as per the expectations. They may even use punishment as a response to unacceptable performance.
Assumptions of Transactional Theory
' Employees are motivated by reward and punishment.
' The subordinates have to obey the orders of the superior.
' The subordinates are not self-motivated. They have to be closely monitored and controlled to get the work done.
Implications of Transactional Theory
The transactional leaders overemphasize detailed and short-term goals, and standard rules and procedures. They do not make an effort to enhance followers' creativity and generation of new ideas. This kind of a leadership style may work well where the organizational problems are simple and clearly defined. Such leaders tend to not reward or ignore ideas that do not fit with existing plans and goals.
The transactional leaders are found to be quite effective in guiding efficiency decisions which are aimed at cutting costs and improving productivity. The transactional leaders tend to be highly directive and action oriented and their relationship with the followers tends to be transitory and not based on emotional bonds.
The theory assumes that subordinates can be motivated by simple rewards. The only 'transaction' between the leader and the followers is the money which the followers receive for their compliance and effort (managementstudyguide.com).
The theory that resonates well with me is the Transformational Leadership Theory. But for my working environment I would say a combination of the two theories would be the best way to go. To illustrate my point, I will first give a brief background of my working environment. At Amatola Water, the management of projects is assigned to the Planning and Development Division. The division is tasked with Infrastructure Master Planning, Feasibility Studies and Project Implementation services.
All appointments to this division are purely based on the candidate's technical expertise and specialization in an engineering related discipline. This philosophy presupposes that for any project manager to effectively manage and implement projects successfully they must be from an engineering background and specifically project management.
The Planning and Development division is not the only division with engineering experts in the organisation. Other technical experts come from the Operations Division, which deals with the operation, maintenance and optimization of Water Treatment facilities and distribution of potable water. Operations division is seen as a unit that produces repetitive outputs; therefore Ops managers are over looked when it comes to the appointment of project managers.
One is considered fit to be in the project Management Unit if they have a professional civil engineering qualification, civil engineering design and consulting engineering background. Within this context, Amatola Water recognizes to an extent that management in operations is different to management in a project environment.
The only short sight is that experience in the management of people is not considered a crucial element for project managers. Only the technical aspects of project management are considered in the candidate's experience. This arrangement has resulted into a scenario where some of the Senior Project leaders who lack in people management skills but highly experienced in project management are given responsibilities to oversee project teams. The effects of this lack of insight have been seen in the way we have failed to deliver on our commitments as a business division on the Corporate Score Card and with high employee turnover as well.
Transactional leadership is a general style of leadership that can be applied and learnt by any manager who seeks to achieve organisational goals using company rules and policies. The technical experts who have leadership roles in the division can be taught and adopt to this style of leadership as the organisation as a whole already operates in this kind of fashion, that is, being results and performance oriented. Transformational leadership on the other hand will require that these project leaders make a conscientious effort to learn to be visionary and motivational leaders.
This sort of leadership, meaning transformational leadership, would be best suited to this division as it is seen to be an elite and professional team within the organisation. Professionals and technical experts in general are perceived to be needing little supervision and coaching but need to be given their space to do their work and report on progress, thus making them feel valued and trusted to deliver on projects. However we cannot run away from the fact that there will be individuals within the team that may need more of a transactional leadership style than others, meaning that the leader will need to use both leadership styles. The organisational culture also dictates to a large extent as to how much of a transformational leadership role one can play.
It is on this basis that I say a combination of the two leadership theories need to be applied in my work environment in order to strike a good balance of having a highly motivated and performance driven team.
Emotional Intelligence within the project management environment
a) 'Emotional intelligence has become a core skill for manager- leaders wanting to successfully face the leadership challenges of the C21st'
In order to start addressing the task of stating my agreement or disagreement with the statement in italics above, I will first define what Emotional Intelligence is and how thought leaders in the field of management view its place and importance in the workplace.
Dike, Odiwe and Ehujor(2015) cited, today's leaders and managers, therefore, must behave differently as they need to acquire the essential practical skills and knowledge to thrive in the knowledge-driven 21st century global economy. For instance, they need to become better listeners and skilled change agents who can provoke persuasive reasons to get the followers to support their agenda. In addition, leaders and managers have to become great team players and relationship builders (Sadmann & Vandenberg, 1995) as well as create motivating work environment to enhance workers' productivity.
They further cite that developing a 21st century business organization requires leaders and managers who are capable of making quick and effective decisions, learn to utilize the powers of emerging technologies and social media to effectively and efficiently communicate and coordinate actions (Drucker, 2001; Drucker, 2006; Trilling & Fadel, 2009). They need to become aware of global politics in the world connected by the Internet and globalization, become more innovative and 'create a sense of urgency, make decisions, and act' decisively (Rose, 2008). As Drucker (2006) has aptly observed, executive should first effectively manage themselves before they can possibly be expected to manage their co-workers and followers. Therefore, 'The effectiveness of a modern society and its ability to perform-perhaps even its ability to survive-depend increasingly on the effectiveness of the people who work as executive in the organizations' (Drucker, 2006) (Dike, Odiwe and Ehujor, 2015).
So what is Emotional Intelligence? Mindtools.com gives the following definition; Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they're feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.
Mindtools.com cites, according to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize EI, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence:
If you're self-aware, you always know how you feel, and you know how your emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you're in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses and it means behaving with humility.
Leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control.
This element of emotional intelligence, according to Goleman, also covers a leader's flexibility and commitment to personal accountability
Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.
For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it.
If you want to earn the respect and loyalty of your team, then show them you care by being empathic.
5. Social skills
Leaders who do well in the social skills element of emotional intelligence are great communicators. They're just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they're expert at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project (Mindtools.com).
Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically. They're rarely satisfied with leaving things as they are, but they don't sit back and make everyone else do the work: They set an example with their own behaviour. The more a leader masters each of these areas, the better and more improved his emotional intelligence becomes (Mindtools.com).
Marchant (2013) in addressing the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace states emotional intelligence at work is about how people and relationships function:
' Relationships between colleagues, between directors and staff;
' Relationships between the organisation and its customers, stakeholders, suppliers, competitors, networking contacts, everyone.
It is about leadership, teamwork, management skills and partnership. Founded on excellent practice and understanding of communication, the emotionally intelligent business consistently excels in all these areas and has insight into how this happens.
An organisation which is emotionally intelligent has staff who are:
' Motivated, productive, efficient, aligned with the business, and committed;
' Effective, confident, likable, happy, and rewarded.
Emotional intelligence is applicable to every human interaction in business: from staff motivation to customer service, from brainstorming to company presentations. But the subject is far deeper and wider than these examples, emotional intelligence must be able to understand and deal with:
' How we assess people
' How relationships develop
' How our beliefs generate our experience
' As well as resistance to change, power struggles, judgment, competition, vision, leadership, success, and much more.
A business in which the staff are emotionally intelligent is one which enables them to work together to maximum effectiveness. This can only increase the organisation's success, however measured (Marchant, 2013).Moeller (2005) identified certain qualities that 'long living' companies have in common that give them an advantage over others. He listed and described these commonalities as follows:
' Commitment to people before assets
' Strong awareness of their identity as a corporation
' Pay attention to the development of employees
' Optimisation of financial capital is secondary to optimisation of the human capital, the people
Moeller further states that the biggest problems that face organisations are mostly emotional than factual. He cites that corporations, teams and individuals fight internal wars because they cannot manage their emotions, they lack emphatic skills, and they lack team skills and group orientation. When employees do not bring out their best, the reasons are emotional, because they fear management, because they feel lonely and isolated, because they feel stressed and exhausted. Employees resist change for emotional reasons, because they feel uncertain about their future or because they don't trust management. Companies lose customers for emotional reasons.
He continues on to say like people, organisations can upgrade their emotional and social competence by actively working on the same five basic areas of organisational emotional intelligence, similar to the ones which apply to individuals. The five areas can be described as:
Organisational self-awareness: Knowing the organisation's strengths and weaknesses, being aware of the emotional undercurrents in the organisation and using this awareness to foster a company culture characterised by openness, trust, a sense of identity and pride.
Organisational self-management: Monitoring and managing organisational emotions so that they work for - and not against - the organisation. Emotionally intelligent organisations monitor the emotional undercurrents in the organisation in order to discover negative trends and address them as early as possible.
Organisational self-motivation: Establishing and maintaining an organisational culture which inspires all employees to bring out their best, allows them to develop their potential and to use it for their own good and for that of the organisation.
Organisational social awareness: Knowing and understanding the emotions, needs and concerns of the organisation's internal and external stakeholders.
Organisational social skills: Managing organisational relationships by building and maintaining good relations hips with all the organisation's stakeholders, internally and externally.
Customers leave because they are dissatisfied with the attitude displayed by the staff, or they do not like the way their complaints are being handled. Companies recruit the wrong people because they focus more on professional skills than the emotional and social skills of those they employ. Companies suffer big losses and die because they focus on hard factors and bottom line results and forget the soft factors, their people, and the emotions of those who create the results. Thus companies cannot hope to achieve long-term growth and survival if they neglect the people issues. Long-living companies consistently focus on their human capital and know the importance of "Putting People First' (Moeller, 2005).
In consideration of all the above stated arguments, I would like to say that I agree with the statement posed above, that Emotional intelligence has become one of the most important factors that can make or break organisations and corrode the moral of their people. I have observed how the focus on the bottom line, not being aware of the changing environment and neglecting people affects business. In my own organisation we have witnessed loss of customers, high staff turnover, stakeholders and customers losing confidence in our abilities to deliver and lots of labour unrest. One may say we never saw it coming but any discerning person could have anticipated the troubles we are experiencing at the present moment.
I now can realise without a shadow of doubt that there is a huge correlation here between emotionally intelligent organisations and business success. We have been working hard as an organisation but yet not yielding the desired results, everyone is worn out and yet the company is not performing well. The staff is low on moral and management is still not changing the way they lead the organisation, fear and intimidation is the order of the day. Emotionally Intelligent management and leadership come from an Emotionally Intelligent organisation.
When we treat people as commodities, don't show that we value them but degrade and treat them unkindly and with disrespect it leads to all sorts of problems in the organisation. When employees are no longer motivated, ideas and innovation cease to exist and we become out of touch with the environment we operate in. Projects are always running over budget, going on for longer than the planned completion dates and always running into litigation. When this happens we lose our customers and this in turn leads to loss of revenue and loss of revenue leads to job losses.
b) My strength and weaknesses in dealing with conflict
One of my weaknesses is to sometimes be too lenient and have far too much sympathy towards others. When I am not happy with someone's performance I tend to take over everything myself instead of calling the person into order or counselling them positively. I have realised that people can take advantage of this quality or even become unhappy as a result of my action. Sometimes it is better to let go and give people room to do things on their own. As one of my strengths, I always work reliably and pay attention to detail. This has proved to be a good tool and improved my work ethic as it has allowed me to excel in my work and be recognised as one that can be relied upon to accomplish and fill higher roles and tasks.
As a manager having employees reporting under me I have had incidences where I had to try and resolve conflict between employees who did not see eye to eye and also between myself and other managers from other departments. The way I have always approached conflict resolution was to meet with both parties individually to try and hear both sides of the story separately and then call them both in to discuss and to get each party to listen in on the others complaint or disgruntlement. After listening in and giving inputs I would take a neutral role and yet firm stance and ruling to make sure that no one would be at a disadvantage and we all walked away with a smile.
The difficulty I have experienced is when a staff member or members are personally attacking me or my decisions and my leadership. The natural stance I have always taken was to get defensive and become offended and even crushed. I am quite an extrovert and such encounters always take me by surprise and out of my comfort zone. But not wanting to be a walk over I have always defended myself or tried to avoid such contentious and conflict situations. I now realise that being defensive or avoiding situations is not the right way to handle conflict. I have come to realise also that not everyone is going to like me or always agree with me as a manager but I need to face up to the criticism and turn it into a learning point and turn the person from enemy to ally.
The next equally or even more difficult conflict situation for me is a disagreement or conflict with a boss. This one is challenging because my superior is in a position to impose disciplinary action against me, victimise me and be out to get me at work and make my working life miserable. I have always endured in silence and carried the burden until one time I just lost it and the manager could not understand how I could stand up to them in that way. I handled the situation in anger and emotion. I had bottled up a lot of emotion and dissatisfaction for such a long time and when it got out I could not contain my anger.
From that experience I learnt to stand up for myself and raise my opinion and disagreement with my superiors in a firm but respectable manner without raising my voice. I have also learnt that it is not a good idea to ignore a problem and hope that it will go away by itself. I learnt that to avoid confrontation only leads to bigger problems, it is always best to nip a situation in the bud. In order to be an effective leader, one must be able to handle various situations of conflict in the workplace and unfortunately this sort of expertise comes with experience. There must be clear lines of communication and reporting structures and the leader must always seek to involve his team in decision making in order to get buy in.
Successful organisations are always those that value their people and develop them. When companies are fixated on achieving the bottom line while neglecting their people and treating them badly, that organisation is doomed to fail. Effective Leadership in any organisation is key to its success and if the organisational culture is that of fear and intimidation, it will only lead to a workforce that is unhappy, unmotivated and finally the down fall of that organisation. Emotional intelligence therefore needs to be the organisational culture in order for it to filter down and yield results by producing a motivated and high performing teams.
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' Bennis, W., 1997. "Learning to Lead," Addison-Wesley,MA.
' Kouzes, J. M: "The Leadership Challenge," Jossey-Bass Publishers, CA.
' Norman: Parental Empathy. Parenthood, Little, Brown, NY
(Timothy R. Barry)
' Shawn Grimsley (http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-situational-leadership-theories-styles-definition.html)
' Theory and Practice of Leadership (Gill,2011)
' Leadership Theory and the community College, applying theory to practice (Nevarez, Wood and Penrose,2013)
' http://online.stu.edu/transactional-leadership (Spahr,2014)
' http://www.emotionalintelligenceatwork.com/resources/why-emotional-intelligence-is-important-in-the-workplace (Marchant,2013)
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