Project Management

The Resonant Project Manager

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The Resonant Project Manager

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Categories: Leadership

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As project managers, we are taught to focus on scope, schedule, and budget.  However, studies have shown the main reasons for project failure is almost never purely technical. When we dig deeper into the common sources of project failure, we find it’s rarely a shortfall in technical expertise, but rather a shortcoming in the project leadership’s interpersonal, communication, and self-management behaviors.   

Leadership is the key to project success and the path to effective and sustainable leadership is through resonance. Resonance can be defined as the transfer of a positive emotional state from one person to another. Dissonance is the transference of a negative state.  Cognitive research has shown that positive emotions increase productivity and boast the immune system. It generates more creative thinking and improves performance.  

The attributes of a successful project manager consists of both hard skills and soft skills. The term “soft skills” is a holdover from the Tayloristic approach to management that has permeated organizations for close to one hundred years. In this model, only technical, easily measurable skills and IQ are valued, while technical skills and intellect are important, the research is conclusive: emotional intelligence competencies such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management are at the heart of leadership effectiveness— and business success. 

Hard skills are technical and specific abilities such as organizing and managing project staff, creating and maintaining the project budgets, developing work plans and schedules, defining project scope, tracking milestones and deliverable deadlines, addressing and handling project risks and issues. These types of skills can be taught and are easy to quantify. Soft skills are subjective and difficult to define. Soft skills are relationship based and focus on interactions with people such as conflict resolution, communication, listening, and motivating. As managers, we spend about 90 percent of our time on communication. 

Importance of Soft Skills
Soft skills can be directly related to leadership style and individuals often have a variation of leadership styles. While some leadership characteristics are natural, we can always fine tune them, learn, unlearn and relearn in other to achieve the project goal.

Posted on: March 08, 2017 02:03 AM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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Thanks you, Carla, for sharing your insights in this article. Agreed, the how one gets it done has significant importance and value.

What a wonderful article, what a tremendous contribution, quite an academic course.

This is very interesting and ties in with the work I am doing with teams and project managers. Thank you for sharing.
The Resonant Leader is an idea that Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee share and it is a powerful idea.
Just keeping in mind that our emotions - positive and negative - transfer from one person to another is useful. If we are having a bad day and we are in a position of leadership and engagement with others, we are at risk of bringing others down too! Worth remembering. Just as we should stay away if we have that rampant virus doing the rounds in the office, we should stay away if we are going to spread negativity and pessimism!

If we are feeling good, we should spread the wealth! It is hard to stay down and pessimistic when there is a vivacious optimist in the room. We may laugh at them (like the character April Kepner in Grey's Anatomy), but their positivity still rubs off!

As you say Carla - positive emotions free us to be innovative. Barbara Fredrickson's research supported this and is shared as her broaden and build theory. Positivity widens the perspective, and makes us more open to ideas and suggestions.

I love working to bring these ideas to project management, taking PMs out of the schedule and into the team!
I am sure this session will go down really well at the conference.
Have a great time.

This is great feedback. Thank you. I am adding my researsch sources and will post for anyone who wants to deep dive into the subject of resonance.

Great, I look forward to that Carla! As I said, I love this stuff and I am so excited to see that you are working in this area of project management too.

Great blog post & insights Carla - The "How" is very important always.

Nice post
Positive emotion, we need more of those
Thank you

Books on Resonance and Emotional Intelligence

Boyatzis, Richard and McKee, Annie (2005). Resonant Leadership: Renewing yourself and connecting with others through mindfulness, hope and compassion. Boston: HBR Press.

McKee, Annie, Boyatzis, Richard, Johnston, Frances (2008). Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop your emotional intelligence, renew your relationships, sustain your effectiveness. Boston: HBR Press.

Goleman, Daniel, Boyatzis, Richard, and McKee, Annie (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston: HBR Press.

Recent Books

The Leader’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence, by Drew Bird
Emotional Intelligence – Why It Matters More Than IQ, by Daniel Goleman
Go Suck a Lemon: Strategies for Improving your Emotional Intelligence by Michael Cornwall
The EQ Edge by Steven Stein and Howard Book

Thank you so much Carla for the sources. That is really helpful. You are synthesizing a tremendous about of work and research in the material you are sharing. Lucky us! And your audience next week will learn a LOT!

Wonderful insights on importance of soft skills like emotional intelligence-EQ for project success. To be a successful project manager it is essential to foster Resonance in our project team. Positivity increases dopamine level of team which furthe makes team happy, creative and productive. It is chain reaction leading to project success.

Thank you Carla Fair-Wright for spreading resonance!!

Dear Carla
Interesting is your perspective on the theme: "The Resonant Project Manager"
Thanks for sharing

It is new to me the concepts:
"Resonance can be defined as the transfer of a positive emotional state from one person to another"
"Dissonance is the transference of a negative state"

Great insights. Thanks for sharing, Carla!

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