Avid readers of my PMO blog will know that one of my favorite topics is the activity and behavior and resulting performance of project managers in a Program Management Office (PMO) setting. I have written numerous “essays” on this subject based on my observation of project manager behavior in the past twenty years or so.

Although to this point, I have not reviewed a book on PMO or project manager behavior, I have always left open the possibility that there might be a candidate book in the PMO universe that would be worthy of review and comment. Such a book has surfaced and I want to provide my many project manager colleagues with a straightforward and very objective review of its contents.

This June, AMACOM Press released a book entitled Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers by Anthony Mersino.

I believe the objective of this book was to provide project management practitioners with concrete actions that they could take to enhance their project performance by incorporating research findings from the Emotional Intelligence (EI) discipline into their everyday project lives.

At first glance, the topics of Emotional Intelligence and Project Manager Behavior seem like two unlikely topics to try to bring together.

Mersino appears to be someone well-versed in EI, and trying to apply it to the discipline of project management could admittedly be difficult to do.  So that gives me some reason to question why the author tried to associate these two disciplines.  What was the underlying motivation?  If such a cross-disciplinary approach was handled skillfully, it could be a winning proposition; but, if not, it might be a flop.

My sense is that this book is very heavy in explaining EI, and a little short on really making a case for linking it to real everyday project manager behavior ,which leads to good and bad performance on the part of the project manager.

This insight is from someone who has worked in PMO and Project Office groups for a long time, and who studies these behaviors from the results they achieve.

Let me give you an analogous example. I am currently reading the book The Doctors Mayo by Helen Clapesattle in order to understand how the education and development of William and Charles Mayo contributed to the processes and practices that they instilled in the Mayo Clinic. I am reading this book to provide background on the influence of “learning” and “sharing” on process development for a future blog post for project managers.

If the book The Doctor’s Mayo had been titled, for example, Pathology and The Doctors Mayo, in which a thorough explanation of how “pathology” impacts medicine was provided, and then how the Mayos used pathology in their process development, I might have questioned the appropriateness of a book devoted to the linking of pathology as a scientific discipline to the development of the Mayos. Certainly other factors than pathology produced a total makeup of activity and behavior of doctors of the stature of the Mayos.

So, I really question whether Emotional Intelligence as a standalone topic and its impact on project manager behavior and team behavior can be a standalone linkage. Project environment, organization structure, and attitudes toward the PMO role in organizations, for example, can all play a part in ultimate project manager behavior and performance.

I am in no way questioning Anthony Mersino’s talents as a student of EI, and his intent to provide project managers with new insights they can use to enhance their performance, but in my opinion, his focus on EI as applied to project management is too broad to achieve his overarching goal of teaching more effective management of and by project managers.  That said, if you are interested in learning more about EI, this book may be useful to you.  You may also want to read some of Daniel Goleman’s powerful work in this area.

Some of my readers may have already encountered the book Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers. Those of you who have, I would be interested in your comments.

Disclosure—I received a free review copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are my own!

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