Robotics Tomorrow predicts that there is a very high chance of Artificial Intelligence outperforming humans in most mental tasks. Some other experts also believe that Artificial Intelligence will take the place of humans in the workplace. Why? This is simply because machines are more efficient, less distracted, obey instructions and always stay focused on the task until completed. It’s a good thing that employers are not looking forward to replacing employees with robots. At least not complete replacements or anytime soon. But, they are looking for something more from the people they recruit and pay more attention to researchers to get the most efficient skills necessary from the people. The recruiters nowadays are no longer interested in the number of certificates a candidate has or if you went to Harvard or your business skills and not even your expertise but your emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence? Why is it important in the future of work? Why do employers want this in candidates recently being recruited? Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in a positive way to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. It is popularly referred to as EQ. It helps one build stronger relationships, succeed at whatever you do by connecting your feelings into actions and making well-informed decisions about what matters most to the business. Employers are looking for people who have soft skills such as empathy, ability to work with others and integrity over and above their job skills. Being able to monitor your own emotions and the emotions of the people around you are very important in the future of work.
Why emotional intelligence is so important in the future of work?
The Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum predicts emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 most important skills for workers by 2020. Today, the disciplines of behavioural science and data science are colliding and people are taking the concept and development of emotional intelligence more serious. The Senior Director of Human Capital Management Innovation at Ultimate Software, Dr Jarik Conrad, says that emotional intelligence has to do with how you process information, how you make decisions and the degree to which you can connect with others and get them to follow your lead (Ranosa, 2020). He also acknowledges that it is difficult to be a leader without emotional intelligence unless it is a situation where people only have to do as you say. Emotional intelligence is very crucial from senior leaders to customer-facing staff to make that human connection which requires a certain degree of intelligence. This certain degree of intelligence can be acquired through nature or nurture.
A world-renowned behavioural scientist, Daniel Goleman said that “the part of the brain which supports emotional and social intelligence is the last circuitry of the brain to become anatomically mature and because of neuroplasticity, the brain shapes itself according to repeated experience”. Daniel Goleman goes on to say that “This has been trialled in over 100 schools and there was a reduction of anti-social behaviour, an increase of pro-social behaviour and academic scores rose”. This shows that emotional intelligence is beneficial both in and out of the workplace. In a 2011 Career Builder Survey of more than 2,600 recruiting managers and human resource professionals, 71 per cent said they favoured an employee’s emotional intelligence over IQ; 75 per cent said they were more likely to hire a highly emotionally intelligent worker, and 59 per cent said they would pass up a candidate with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.
A person’s intellectual ability is not enough on its own to achieve success in life. This is why emotional intelligence is very important to have. Most people always question that if one has a high intellectual ability why do they need to get the high emotional intelligence? With technology evolving replacing human jobs done by those with high intellectual abilities e.g. someone good at data analysis is being replaced by machines which are even more efficient, there are certain things which cannot be replaced by machines. The most important one is the human connection which makes emotional intelligence the most important skill every employee should possess. Having emotional intelligence makes you stay relevant and helps you create a more positive working environment. A supportive climate can improve innovation and efficiency in the workplace, according to a study done by Stress.org.
Emotional intelligence will help you manage your stress and emotions and it affects the following:
- Performance at work: High emotional intelligence can help you handle social complexities of the workplace as well as to lead and motivate others excelling in your career.
- Physical health: Inability to manage the results of your emotions in an inability of managing your stress which can result in serious health issues. Emotional intelligence helps you manage stress.
- Mental health: Uncontrolled emotions and stress can make one vulnerable to anxiety and depression which can result in one feeling lonely and isolated. This can cause serious mental problems.
- Relationships: You can express how you feel much better to others when you have control over your emotions.
- Social intelligence: This enables you to identify friends from enemies, measure other people’s interest in you, reduce stress and balance your nervous system through social communication and feel loved and happy.
To get a positive working environment that makes it easier for employees to think creatively, innovate and contribute to the growth of the business. Elon Musk is a good example of a leader with emotional intelligence, in one of his emails to his employees at Tesla he urged then to step down from their pedestal and connect emotionally with their target customers. In his words “You cannot buy anything from a man just because of his fancy suits. You buy only from people you trust and feel safe with”. Experts agree that, in the working environment of distrust, it is impossible that anyone can evolve and learn. The following are reasons why you should cultivate and grow your emotional intelligence:
- Social skills: Emotional intelligence helps you to improve your social competencies. This makes it easier to communicate with people, in a simple, descriptive, and courteous way.
- Self-Awareness: Self-awareness simply means you controlled your emotions. You must learn to recognise your emotional states and how they affect your decisions and actions to develop self-awareness.
- Empathy: In an email from Elon Musk to his workers, he asked them to share in their clients ‘ pain and difficulties. Through emotional intelligence, you can understand how and why people feel the way they do. This will help you make crucial marketing decisions.
- Emotional regulations: People take actions due to strong feelings they felt at the time, and later regretted these acts. You must learn how to control your emotions with emotional intelligence. You will also learn how to reduce negative feelings, and boost trust in yourself. By not allowing your feelings to cloud your judgement, you’ll make better and more effective decisions.
Smart leaders are driven by opportunities and the future rather than by their egos or the past. Although valuable lessons may be learnt from past experiences, they do not attempt to preserve the status quo. Staying vigilant and on top of the future trends is more important in the future of work and embracing the flow of new ideas is key. Emotional intelligence can do exceptional things for businesses and can even take you to the next level in your career. An example of top business owners who have emotional intelligence includes Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bill Gates etc. Future leaders will require emotional intelligence to remain competent and relevant. Now is the time to upskill, grow and be prepared for the future of work.