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Book Review: Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers

Firstly, a big SORRY to Anthony Mersino. Anthony sent me his book at the end of last year and it has taken me forever to get around to posting a review.

That’s not because I haven’t read it. On the contrary, as soon as it arrived I picked it up and then couldn’t put it down. And there aren’t that many business books that I can sit and read cover to cover without being bored.

It’s the book I wished I’d written. If you don’t own a copy, go out and get one.

That’s the short review. If you want to know a bit more about what you’d be investing in if you buy a copy, then read on…

Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers covers all the soft skills that they don’t teach you on project management training courses. The book’s subtitle is ‘The people skills you need to achieve outstanding results’. EI is all about being able to use your hard skills successfully through people: essentially, you could be the best project manager in the world but if you rub everyone up the wrong way every time you open your mouth then you are never going to be good at your job. Project management, in my opinion (although I expect Anthony would agree) is all about getting things done through people, and knowing how people tick is a great skill for project managers to have.

There has been a fair amount written about EI (or EQ as it is also called), and Anthony sets out the development of EI before going on to explain how you can measure your own. This forms the first part of the book. Part 2 covers self-awareness and self-management. After all, you can’t manage others if you can’t manage yourself. This section includes tips on self-confidence and techniques to better understand your impact on others.

Part 3 looks at social awareness and relationship management. It’s a really useful guide to building successful relationships and how this can help stakeholder management. It sets out explain group dynamics and also includes a chunk on developing others, which I found particularly interesting.

Each part specifically puts EI in the project context. This was important to me as so many business books are incredibly general and don’t take into account the sensitivities of managing diverse, non-co-located, matrix teams in a project environment. The final part of the book is very targeted as it covers using EI to lead project teams. This section looks at what it takes to lead a team, techniques for creating a positive team environment and different leadership styles. The bit about how project managers set the tone and direction for the project is very interesting.

All through the book Anthony draws on his experience and the experiences of his colleagues, and he writes in a very conversational style. There’s lots of useful information and further reading in the appendices, but I thought the emotional tally sheet (where you tick off the emotions of team members during a meeting) would probably do more harm than good in my team. As with all the techniques discussed in the book, you don’t have to use it. There is more than enough in here for you to take the bits that appeal to you and leave the rest for when you have more time.

If that sounds interesting, but you still aren’t sure enough to buy it on Amazon straight away, then check out Anthony’s blog, EQ4PM, which talks more about the practical application of soft skills and EI in a project environment.

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