Why Emotional Intelligence is One of The Top Skills in Demand

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In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with the world that no longer exists – Eric Hoffer 

The last 20 years have seen unprecedented changes in the way we live and learn. Twenty years ago, laptops were considered a luxury and smartphones had not yet hit the market. Today almost everyone has several combinations of laptops and mobile devices, and it is almost a requirement to participate in society. Daily, we see new intersections of technology and life through social media, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. While technology seems to be directing so much of our lives, we also need to direct a similar focus on developing our emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify situations and regulate one’s emotions based on them. They include skills like adaptability; capacity to work well with others; open-mindedness; good listening, and patience. Emotional intelligence has been considered a strong indicator of how an employee will perform on the job and has also been an indicator of important leadership behaviors. More human resources departments are using emotionally based questions in the hiring process to get at this very notion. It makes good business sense because the failure to do so can be costly. According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months. The top two reasons being –

  1. Lack coachability (26%): The ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers, and others.
  2. Lack of emotional intelligence (23%): The ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others emotions.

Interestingly, Only 11% fail because they lack the necessary technical skills.

Why do we need to improve our emotional intelligence? 

We are more educated, more diverse, and more technologically savvy than any other period in human history. All this change has created disruption, which has highlighted the need for greater self-awareness to navigate these fast moving times. The new paradigm requires not only technical knowledge but more importantly soft skills. No amount of technical education can help solve issues arising from ageism, miscommunication, mismanagement, and cultural incompetence. What is needed then are greater learning opportunities to increase our emotional intelligence.

So how can we improve upon our emotional intelligence? 

One of the ways we can become better equipped in the digital age is to slow down and take inventory of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses and be willing to do the development work that is often required. Some people believe that you are born with emotional intelligence and that it is an all or nothing proposition. However, the brave ones are willing to open themselves to learning about how they show up in the world, through personality assessments, 360 feedback, and coaching. They seek out classes and workshops that focus on improving or building their soft skills. According to Dan Schawbel, New York Times best-selling author, successful people are lifelong learners who push themselves out of their comfort zones. While most people think that when they graduate college, they are finished being a student, successful people remain students for life.

Many of the skills that are required to be successful today are dependent on emotional intelligence. For any current or aspiring leader, if you do not take the time to figure out for your blind spots in this fast-paced day and age, you will be blindsided.

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering”—your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge.

We can all improve our emotional intelligence. To inherit the earth in this digital age, it will take time and a willingness to be open and to embrace continuous self-development.

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