In 2011, Doug Conant co-wrote the New York Times bestseller, TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments.

Conant, the former President of the Nabisco Foods Company and former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, attributes those daily interruptions and incidental interactions most leaders and managers dismiss, as windows of opportunity that hold the greatest potential for leadership effectiveness.

These are the 'touchpoints' that helped Conant turn around the Campbell Soup Company from near-financial death during his tenure as CEO. It's the hundreds, even thousands of these small interactions--and every point of contact with people at work--that serve to promote a company's values, purpose, and strategy. It's also what will leave behind a leadership legacy.

And it worked for Conant. "We went from having the worst employee engagement in the Fortune 500 to having the best, and as the employee engagement got better our business performance got better," Conant shared in a 2014 interview.

Why small moments matter

Development Dimensions International (DDI) research shows there are overlooked aspects of communication that create an invaluable opportunity for leaders to convey respect, empathy, inclusion, and support by how they manage these conversations.

It is when conversations become more human and heart-centered, and when leaders holding these conversations become more open to feedback and questions being asked, that generate more energy and impact for a team to perform well.

And you'll need your emotional intelligence radar to be in the "on" position for such interactions to occur.

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In DDI's High-Resolution Leadership study, more than 50 percent of "frontline leaders" fell short in their communication abilities. While a leader's cognitive ability (IQ) is required for the intellectual traits of the job, emotional intelligence (EQ) paves the way for the communication skills necessary to perform at a high level. 

The DDI study shows that when IQ goes head-to-head against EQ (as illustrated in the graphic below), leaders with EQ successfully drive execution and inspire people to better outcomes. "It's about how you make people feel in every conversation" -- those TouchPoints we face every day--where leaders fail the most. 

While KPI's and other metrics used to intellectually and logically gauge things like profit, job performance, and customer satisfaction still dominate, the future of work is human and relational. And the bigger opportunity for leadership development lies in teaching future leaders the crucial soft-skills needed for success on the job--the real hard-skills moving forward in the age of machine learning and artificial intelligence.