Five years ago, the World Economic Forum released the Future of Jobs Report, which predicted the employee skills and workforce strategy expected by 2020 -- the year the world was brought to its knees by the global pandemic.
With new technologies forcing new ways of working, employees were projected to have new skills to keep up with the changes. Then the pandemic sacked the workforce and accelerated the need for such critical skills even further.
Besides work-related skills in areas of cognitive ability (creativity, critical thinking, complex problem solving), the Report showed the need for particular occupations and job types to require competence in social skills like emotional intelligence by the year 2020.
Emotional intelligence on the job
This should be of no surprise. Emotional intelligence has become an important predictor of job success, surpassing technical ability. In 2011, a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,600 U.S. hiring managers and human resources professionals revealed that 71 percent valued emotional intelligence in an employee over a high IQ.
To build your own superpower culture of emotional intelligence, you need to know what to shoot for when assessing the social skills of your current and future employees. Here are a few observable behaviors you want to see more of, which will point the way forward.
1. Look for transparency
Transparency is a hot commodity these days. Sometimes the tendency is for employees to hide, withdraw, stonewall, or put on the mask to avoid tough situations or conflict. And that mask hides who they truly are in challenging, customer-facing situations requiring quick thinking. In teams that thrive, you'll find people displaying their authentic selves. It's leading in conversations and interactions with integrity, emotional honesty, an openness to feedback, and awareness of not only your own internal state, but the feelings of others on the team.
2. Look for resilience and flexibility
Priorities shift in almost every company and every job. As leaders, you want to surround yourself with people who are flexible during change and will jump on every opportunity to help during a transition. They have the flexibility to deal with uncertain and unpredictable situations -- a hallmark of true emotional intelligence. You also want a team of people with resilient minds. They deal in the factual (what's really true) and the here and now, and leave the ghosts of their past in the past. The most resilient people recover from bad situations by saying no to anyone who interferes with their goals and schedules, their values and beliefs. Resilient people don't allow themselves to feel guilty about things that have nothing to do with them. They know they are not responsible for the actions and drama of others, and they never beat themselves up for something someone else did.
3. Look for people who manage their emotions well
Self-management (or self-regulation) in emotional intelligence is a personal competence found in most high-performing teams. The question behind self-management is simple but rare: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome? Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman says this about people who manage their emotions well:
Reasonable people -- the ones who maintain control over their emotions -- are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.
4. Look for empathy
People are drawn to empathy. It's an attractive quality to have in building successful relationships at work. It is also proven to be a key driver of organizational performance. A high-performing team that displays empathy will have fostered strong personal relationships that lead to effective collaboration. They'll think about their colleagues' circumstances, understand their challenges and frustrations, and know that those emotions are every bit as real as their own. This helps develop perspective and opens team members to helping one another.