Why CEO need to be thinking about emotional intelligence

Original Publication: The CEO Magazine

Original Publication Date: February 5, 2018

As a CEO, are you investing in the development of Emotional Intelligence in your organization? If not, your competitors probably are.

Recently, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of Emotional Intelligence as evidenced in magazines articles – including Time, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and many more. In addition, the number of times the term Emotional Intelligence is being searched on Google has increased steadily over the past 3 years.

A World Economic Forum report recently ranked Emotional Intelligence as the 6th most important skill needed in 2020 in order to manage the coming 4th industrial revolution.  EI wasn’t even on the list for 2015. For those who know the brain science of emotions, you will know that EI also underpins the other nine skills, including creativity, people management and even complex problem solving.

The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) is nothing new.  Dan Goleman wrote the book Emotional Intelligence in 1996 and at The Institute for Health and Human Potential, we’ve been delivering our Science of Emotional training programs to organizations for more than 20 years.

So why the sudden resurgence of interest in Emotional Intelligence?  We work with hundreds of companies and thousands of leaders in almost every industry and six the factors we see causing this increase are:

1) The amount of disruption and change people are facing.  In large part this is driven by new technologies, but we also see an increase in the number of corporate restructurings, new product launches, government regulations, increase competition, etc. that are increasing how much change people are facing. As we wrote in our All Change is Personal white paper, effectively managing this amount of change and disruption requires high levels of  EQ.

2) Technology and the new demands of the workplace.  People are feeling the need to be on 24/7 and are often feeling overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail, texts, social media, etc. they are dealing with.  In addition, many people are feeling that work/life balance is a nice idea but not a reality.  People are feeling more pressure and stress than they ever have before.

3) The need for innovation and creativity.  With the rapid pace of technology and the ease with which new competitors can enter a marketplace (did you know Amazon is now one of the largest providers of cloud computing services and competes with Microsoft and IBM that space?), organizations need people to be innovative, which requires collaboration, agile teams and a culture that allows for risk-taking and failure, which are EQ-based skills.

4) Service based economy.  As we move to an economy based on services and not just making products, people skills are more important than ever.  How many times have you been on a call with a customer service person who you can tell isn’t engaged and doesn’t really care about your issue?

5) Globalization.  This has been happening for many years and it continues to be critical for organization to be able to understand (i.e. have empathy for) the unique needs of each culture in which they sell or have employees.

6) The Millennial generation.  The millennial generation have been raised with core values that include things like having a purpose, serving others and constantly improving oneself.  In fact, one recent study showed that  80 percent of Millennials strongly believe that developing and cultivating emotional intelligence is a key aspect of their career development.

The World Economic Forum calls this new reality the 4th industrial revolution.  For your organization to compete in this new world, Emotional Intelligence is a critical competency that needs to be hired for and developed/trained in employees and leaders.  The good news in all of this is that Emotional Intelligence is a skill that can be taught: there is brain science that people can learn and training people can participate in where they learn strategies to manage their and other’s emotions more effectively.   Without it, there will be many more Blockbusters to tell your grandchildren about.

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