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One of the most recognised interpretations of emotional intelligence (EI) is that of the American author and science journalist, Daniel Goleman. He describes EI as how we use a combination of self-awareness, self-management and empathy to build and maintain successful relationships. Goleman suggests that EI accounts for 67% of the abilities needed to be a successful leader and that it is twice as important as technical proficiency or IQ.

Why EI is so important
The most successful leaders enjoy positive relationships with other people. They are able to do this because they are aware of and understand what they feel and why. This awareness and understanding helps them make good decisions and develop a sound moral compass.

As well as understanding their emotions, successful leaders can manage them and channel how they feel in positive ways. They understand how other people’s emotions affect their own feelings and behaviour. And they bring all this together into how they manage their relationships with other people.

Of course, EI has always been important, for all of us. But the impact of technology today is making it essential. 83% of executives interviewed by Capgemini in 2019 said a highly emotionally intelligent workforce will be a prerequisite for success in years to come. And 76% said their employees need to develop their EI so they can adapt to new roles and take on tasks that can’t be automated.

Claudia Crummenerl, global practice lead, people and organisation at Capgemini Invent said, “Companies are increasingly aware of the need for emotional intelligence skills but are not moving quickly enough to invest in them.”

Why the need for EI is growing
Today, we’re talking to each other less and less while algorithms and AI are influencing us more and more. As a result we’re losing our ability to connect, to have empathy and to understand. Our EI is suffering.

The more we depend on technology the more we impair our EI. To counter this we must preserve and capitalize on the things we can do that technology can’t. And we must recognise and value our importance as people, as more than simply cogs in a corporate machine.

The value of high EI
People with high EI, understand their emotions and use them to guide how they act. They know their own strengths and weaknesses, can handle constructive feedback and use it to improve their performance and that of the people they manage.

People with high EI are better at coping with and managing change. They are more likely to hire people who perform well in areas they struggle with themselves, and in doing so improve their organisation’s performance.

And people with high EI understand others and so can motivate them. This makes them more comfortable taking on a leadership role. Because they can manage their own and others’ emotions, they are able to create a positive working environment.

These strengths are also the strengths of people who in my business we call innovative communicators. And it’s why we base our communications training firmly in EI.

What high EI means for communication
The more we interact with other people, the more we learn to understand our own motivations and behaviours. And the more we interact with other people, the more we learn to understand their motivations and behaviours.

So the more we communicate with others, the more emotionally intelligent we become. And as we become more emotionally intelligent, so we become better – or innovative – communicators.

Innovative communication is not a function, something you delegate to your human resources or communications team. It’s a set of qualities anyone can develop to help them lead with confidence and drive growth. It depends on behaviours such as adaptive leadership, collaboration and delegation, all of which contribute to high EI. So it’s impossible to separate high EI from effective communication skills. The best communicators will all have high EI because the two are co-dependent.

This means when you train people in communication skills you need to look at the whole human and base the training in EI. It’s not about internal comms, external comms, PR, HR or marketing. It’s about human beings talking to other human beings and the wide range of skills and personality traits it takes to do that effectively – particularly today when we are so influenced by technology and social media.

The time to act is now
The demand for people with high EI and innovative communication skills is set to soar so you should prepare your business by training your teams now. In 2019, IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that, over the next three years, more than 120 million workers worldwide will need retraining in behavioural skills such as communication, teamwork, adaptability, ethics and integrity. All of which are firmly rooted in EI.

Our rhetoric, our politics and our economies are becoming increasingly divisive. Which is why there has never been a better time for people in business to reconnect through meaningful communication, to what matters most to them and to each other, and for the greater good.

Miti AmpomaFounder and Director – Miticom Communications Training

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