The Future of Work is Emotionally Intelligent … Are We Preparing Students?

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

I recently participated in a webinar by Singularity University titled, “The Future of Work is Emotionally Intelligent.” Below are some key takeaways I discovered from the discussion.

Melissa Extein, PsyD, Principal Consultant & Part-time Faculty @Extein Consulting & Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment, The New School
Nichol Bradford, Exec Director and Co-Founder, Transformative Tech Lab, Lecturer at Stanford University, CEO of Willow Group
Simone Harris, Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness Practitioner @Courageous Leadership, LLC and Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute
Rob Nail, Singularity University CEO

What is Emotional Intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence? Although everyone on the panel had a different definition, I think the baseline is the ability to both recognize/understand our own emotions and to recognize/understand/influence others’ emotions. It’s also important to recognize that this is a learned skill, and not some innate trait that you either have or don’t have. There’s a big difference between having emotions and being emotionally intelligent. Many of us learn from people who also aren’t that skilled in this area, so we can all use some help growing this skillset.

If you can’t bring the IQ, bring the EQ, says Nail. Leadership’s role is to understand the culture and emotional space of the business. With this understanding, the leader, knowing who’s in the room and how they operate, can connect the people who know the skills required by the team.

Unbossing an Organization

Bradford describes one of the benefits of having EQ in the workplace is the ability to unboss an organization. Unbossed organizations “focus on collaborative leadership and developing talent through a mutual learning process.” It’s no longer about a Human Resources Department, but Human Capital Department. These types of shifts require a high level of EQ so that employees can both give and take feedback; reduce fear of not having someone who tells them what to do; and self-regulate behaviors, biases, and feelings for the good of the community.

Extein expands on this by pointing out the critical role of empathy. “Empathy requires not only the ability to put yourself in other’s shoes but to understand the shoes they are in and to be interested in understanding.” However, diverse workplaces bring diverse levels of emotional intelligence. Nail remarks that a critical component for the organization is a clear, aligned purpose and intention as well as opportunities to facilitate and develop EQ for those in need.

Millenials and EQ

Millennials demanding a higher level of authenticity – they don’t want to split their identities between who they are in personal and professional life. and they will be the bulk of the work force, and the managers, in the next five to ten years. Companies that are most successful have a strong sense of meaning and purpose for middle management, and not just upper executives. To know your purpose and have a sense of meaning ties in to how much noise is in your head on a daily basis that prevents people from having empathy, from slowing down and getting into the moment to better understand the emotions present.

Research says that employee motivation is based on three areas:
Feelings of autonomy.
Feelings of competency.
Build relationships.
All of these are impacted by emotional intelligence. It reinforces that need for EQ over IQ for those in leadership roles. The smartest engineer, for example, may not be the best CEO for an engineering firm if she lacks the EQ required to provide those feelings of autonomy, competency, and relationships in employees.

Emotional Intelligence is a learned skill, so here are some ways to increase your EQ, as well as that of the organization:
– Slow down enough to look under the surface and not just the surface emotions – meditation, quiet sitting
– Journaling
– Mindful Listening
– Find Ways to “Be in Flow”
– Assess your EQ with Available Tools
– Executive/Peer Coaching for Leaders
– Time to Practice the Skill
– Create an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes and learn
– Use emoticons to share your emotions with others to increase understanding in written communication

How are you building your own emotional intelligence? What about the emotional intelligence of students? staff? community?

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