Human emotion is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Emotions start wars and create peace; spark love and force divorce. While unavoidable, emotions are also indispensable sources of orientation and propel us to take action. But unbridled emotion can make us and those around us to act irrationally.
Emotional intelligence is a relatively new construct, but its impact on how we work will be significant moving forward. The first academic article on emotional intelligence appeared in 1990, but the topic didn’t become mainstream until Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s personal emotions and the emotions of others. Knowing how you’d feel in a certain situation helps you to gauge how others will feel in a similar environment thus enabling favorable social interactions and evoking favorable reactions from others.
Emotional intelligent people gain social aptitudes such as the ability to resolve conflict, teach others or manage teams.
The business case for emotional intelligence
According to Google’s famous Project Aristotle initiative, a high-performing team needs three things: 1) a strong awareness of the importance of social connections or “social sensitivity,” 2) an environment where each person speaks equally, and 3) psychological safety where everyone feels safe to show and employ themselves without fear of negative consequences. To harness these three elements of a successful team, it takes an emotionally intelligent leader.
People feel cared for when these three items are present among a team or organization. People that feel cared for are more loyal, engaged, and productive.
In fact, employees who feel cared for by their organization are…
- 10 times more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.
- 9 times more likely to stay at their company for three or more years.
- 7 times more likely to feel included at work.
- 4 times less likely to suffer from stress and burnout.
- 2 times as likely to be engaged at work.
1. Deep human needs
The three core human needs of work (and life) are to survive, belong and become. Much like Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, once humans fulfill the need of food, water and shelter they will then seek to be accepted for who they are, and then finally to learn and grow to become their best selves.
As the world advances, more and more survival needs are being consistently met causing the workforce to turn their attention to the next tier of needs, most immediately being belonging. Emotionally intelligent leaders are capable of extending belonging to their teams.
2. Technology will enhance humanity
The Industrial Revolution required strong workers. The Information Age required knowledgeable workers. The future age of work will require emotionally intelligent workers.
As the world fills with more sophisticated technology such as artificial intelligence and 5G, human skills like compassion and empathy will define the competitive edge of workers and entire organizations.