Emotional intelligence major differentiator between management and true leadership – Fidelity Bank exec to project managers


Edna Engmann, Head of Transformation Programmes at Fidelity Bank Ghana, in a thought-provoking presentation, asserted that emotional intelligence is a key differentiator between management and true leadership.

Ms. Engmann was addressing leadership and members of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Ghana Chapter at a meeting at the Alisa Hotel, North Ridge. She urged project managers to prioritize emotional intelligence for effective leadership.  Her thought-provoking keynote,

In her presentation, titled ‘Emotional Leadership’, Ms. Engmann championed emotional intelligence as a key skill for project managers.  She argued that it empowers them to transcend mere people management, instead leading teams towards a shared vision.  She emphasized the importance of actively listening to the customer’s voice and fostering team empowerment through trust and guidance.

“Leading does not mean you won’t correct or coach,” she explained, “but it’s about guiding your team along a path to achieve a common goal. Trust is crucial. You have a great team, and they can achieve great things. Your role is to enable them, not micromanage.”

Ms. Engmann highlighted a compelling case study from Fidelity Bank. Their wildly successful 24/7 WhatsApp banking assistant, Kukua, built using Scrum and Agile methodologies. Small, cross-functional teams were empowered to own tasks and overcome challenges identified during daily stand-up meetings. Now, Kukua, armed with the bank’s offerings, answers questions and facilitates transactions in real-time on WhatsApp.

“We weren’t managing them,” Ms. Engmann clarified. “We were creating an environment where they could thrive. This focus on collaboration led to the launch a shippable Kukua in just eight weeks. Traditionally, this project could have taken much longer.”

Engmann further argued that emotional intelligence fosters a customer-centric approach. By understanding customer needs and emotions, project leaders can ensure their projects deliver value.

“Successful companies actively listen to their customers,” she said. “We, as project managers, often aren’t directly interacting with customers.  Emotional intelligence helps us bridge that gap by attuning us to their needs and desires. This, in turn, guides us in shaping products and services that truly resonate.”

Furthermore, Ms. Engmann underscored the significance of self-awareness and social awareness in effective leadership. She emphasized the importance of understanding oneself and others, as well as being mindful of one’s environment and goals. “Self-awareness is paramount,” she stated. “You need to understand what motivates you and what frustrates you. Then you can learn to manage those emotions effectively.”

She also emphasized mindfulness as a key component of emotional intelligence. “Leaders must be present and aware of their surroundings, their teams, and the project’s overall goals”, she said.

Ms. Engmann addressed the evolving workplace demographic. She highlighted the need for project managers to adapt their leadership styles to engage younger generations who value participation and entrepreneurial thinking. “A purely autocratic approach may not resonate with this new generation,” she explained. “However, some level of direction is still necessary. The key is to strike a balance, fostering a sense of belonging and ownership within your team.”

Ms. Engmann concluded by acknowledging that the journey of developing emotional intelligence is a continuous learning process. She encouraged leaders to embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth. “You will make mistakes,” she assured the audience. “That’s part of the learning process. But emotional intelligence allows you to recognize those mistakes and adjust your approach, ultimately leading to a more successful outcome for your projects and your team.”

The PMI Ghana Chapter Meeting provided a valuable platform for project management professionals to gain insights into effective leadership practices and exchange best practices for project success.

Fidelity Bank’s participation in the PMI Ghana Chapter Meeting reflects its commitment to fostering a culture of continuous learning and professional development. By emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence, Ms. Engmann’s presentation equipped project managers with valuable tools to navigate complex projects, build high-performing teams, and achieve sustainable success.

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