The Near Future of Emotional Intelligence (EI)

By Renée Adams

November 6, 2020

Daniel Goleman, Future of EI, Hiring, VUCA

Part 2 in a series on the past, present, and future of EI

When Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, he couldn’t have predicted its impact, especially on the business world. Presently and in the near future, we can expect EI to continue to play a vital role in business.

The impact that EI, a concept that is only 25 years old, has already had in the business world is profound. People across the globe engage with the concept of EI and that engagement is predicted to increase as the years go on. Without a doubt, EI is going to continue to be one of the key players in hirings, promotions, and all other business decisions and it’s going to be up to us to use that to our advantage professionally. 

future of EI

Business of the Past

In the past, when hiring managers and CEOs interviewed for upper-management positions, their criteria and assessments looked a lot different than they do today. In an insightful article by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, he discusses how the hiring process has changed substantially because of EI. 

“For thousands of years, humans made choices about one another on the basis of physical attributes… Throughout much of the 20th century, IQ… was justifiably seen as an important factor in hiring processes (particularly for white-collar roles), with educational pedigrees and tests used as proxies.”

He argues that while these traits were used to determine competency in the past, they don’t translate to the ever-changing, fast-paced world that business has become (and will continue to become). Companies have been forced to adjust the way they evaluate their employees because of changes to workplace culture and the world itself. 

Demographics are shifting and the typical age range that companies hire upper-management from (the 35-44 year old sweet spot) is shrinking. Globalization also means that companies don’t have to rely on local talent and have the whole world to choose from. How you adapt to these changes has drastic implications for your future, so it’s imperative to know what companies are looking for and how EI can help make you a more enticing candidate.

VUCA and the Future of Business

Fernández-Aráoz adds, 

“What makes someone successful in a particular role today might not tomorrow if the competitive environment shifts, the company’s strategy changes, or he or she must collaborate with or manage a different group of colleagues. So the question is not whether your company’s employees and leaders have the right skills; it’s whether they have the potential to learn new ones.”

In the near-future, we’re going to see this shift more and more and this is where many of us will need to adapt. With VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) on the rise across the board, this will play a huge role in hiring and promoting decisions. People will look for candidates whose proficiency with EI competencies work in tandem with their technical aptitude to adapt and flourish on all levels within the organization.

These skills, according to Fernández-Aráoz, are motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination, all of which can be improved through EI. We can expect more focus on these skills rather than accolades and education in the near future. We can extrapolate from the quote above that just because you were able to do a job in the past doesn’t mean that job will look the same in the future and companies will rely on your ability to adapt. 

Going Forward

While technical skills will always be in demand, the need for managers who can help their team adapt to VUCA in all its forms will be just as, if not more vital. This year in particular, we’ve seen one of the most unexpected challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic completely upturn the business world. You should expect this to impact people making hiring and promoting decisions in the near future. They will want to know that you can adapt to challenges and even be ahead of them. They will want to see how you faced this year and what you got out of it. After all, change is here to stay and it’s up to us to learn from it.  

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