Collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, and Stakeholder Engagement takeaways from IIL International Project Management Day 2017

The 14th International Project Management Day, an online event hosted by the International Institute of Learning, focuses on People, Passion, and Purpose in a Digital Age. Today’s organizations need the right people to lead the charge into the digital frontier. Those people are project managers whose passion and sense of purpose galvanizes their teams and stakeholders to bring their very best to every project, every day in pursuit of major change.  In this second of two reviews, I’ll take you along the key takeaways from keynotes and other presentations. See Part 1 and Part 2 that I shared in November 2017 with takeaways from other keynotes and video presentations I watched.

Christa Kirby – Emotional Intelligence in a Digital World

Christa Kirby (VP, Global Learning Innovation – IIL) states that the more digital our work environment becomes, the more we need emotional intelligence. We’re now exposed to enormous amounts of information each day, more than we can process. The way we consume information is like drinking from a fire hose. We live in a world of continuous partial attention. Distractions and interruptions disrupt possibilities to deep work, regardless your personality or age.

We don’t multi-task. We switch tasks. One thing at a time, except for repetitive physical tasks. Information overload impacts:

  • Remembering and creating memories.
  • Controlling cognition.
  • Experiencing empathy.
  • Prioritizing and making decisions.
  • Recognizing and regulating emotions.

Key to the solution is emotional intelligence, a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we:

  • Perceive and express ourselves.
  • Develop and maintain social relationships.
  • Cope with challenges.
  • Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.

Eat well, sleep well, exercise to treat your body right. The physiological approach to emotional intelligence starts with your body. The behavioral approach stresses the importance to unplug yourself (a.k.a. digital detox), being mindful, meditating, and giving. Christa Kirby points to Arianna Huffington‘s 2014 book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. Note, that Huffington’s 2016 book is called The Sleep Revolution which fits well to Kirby’s presentation too. Sleep is not just vital for our health, but also critical to helping us achieve our goals. Sometimes we need to sleep in to lean in!

From the psychological approach, the concept of virtual distance is important. According to Karen Sobel-Lojesky in a 2015 Harvard Business Review blog, virtual distance is a sense of psychological and emotional detachment that begins to grow little by little and unconsciously when most encounters and experiences are mediated by screens on smart devices. Lojesky built a business model around this concept including apps to get insight into your virtual distance 😉

In 2012 Google researched conditions for high performing teams. Psychological safety was the #1 criterion. Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed? Trust, empathy, admitting mistakes, and listening is emotional intelligence in action.

  1. Demonstrate engagement.
  2. Show understanding.
  3. Be inclusive in interpersonal settings.
  4. Be inclusive in decision making.
  5. Show confidence and conviction without appearing inflexible.

Jane Morgan – Dancing in the Moment with our stakeholders: being present to and working with what is

Stakeholder Management is often focused on what you want to achieve regarding your stakeholders as if they or their agenda can be managed. Yet, what pops up now, or is important at this very moment, could be missed. Being in the now, this present moment. The more you relax, the better the shot. Use your intuition, mirroring on what you see and hear. Hold your client’s agenda instead of pushing yours.

The intention is more important than any mindfulness technique, according to Jane Morgan (Senior Consultant & Trainer – IIL). Coaches learn to dance in the moment. As project managers can learn from them.

To be able to dance we need connection, (the right) time, your undivided attention, (the right) space, movement, Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Follow your instincts. Work out the ultimate goal. Helpful techniques are:

  • Ask open questions.
  • Really listen.
  • Manage the inner dialogue. Focus on your conversation, set distractions aside.
  • Look beyond the language to the energy around. Pay attention to body language, tone of voice,
  • Survey the landscape by zooming out.
  • Don’t neglect the obvious
  • Teach people how to dance.