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Three Reasons Emotional Intelligence Will Be Key in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, leaders will need to be more emotionally intelligent than in times past, I argued in a recent article published by Talent Management. Let me touch on three issues relating to emotional intelligence that I didn’t dwell on in the original article.

First, more than ever before in history, organizations are lost without their talent, a topic I covered in The Last Advantage. This trend will become increasingly acute  in coming years as the other business advantages tied with geography, compensation rates, nationality, and culture dwindle in global importance.

Second,  employee creativity will be more important. One reason for this is that new technologies are reducing the number of skilled jobs that, while not creative, have required high levels of education in the past, a subject I covered in Cyberhuman Resources and Will Watson. To maintain an edge, employees in many professions will need to boost their creativity and know how to boost the creativity of the people working for them.

Third, networks are more pivotal to business success than ever before. This isn’t just about social media or “business networking” for career purposes. It’s about the performance of supply chains, the success of outsourcing relationships, the optimization of business partnerships, etc. All this networking not only requires good operational skills but good negotiation and communication skills.

In each case, emotional intelligence is key. The best leaders will be those that get the most out of their “last advantage”. This includes leveraging the creative types who have traditionally tended to be  more emotional and hard-to-manage than conventional buttoned-down corporate types. A manager with high EI will not only know how best to deal with creative types but they’ll know how to inculcate greater emotional maturity among creative employees (which may mean less venting, fewer tantrums, etc.)

The high-EI leader will also be a master communicator, able to understand not only the logistical but the emotional motives of business partners.

So look for the people with these skills in your leadership pipeline, and develop EI skills among your high potentials. I think the effort will pay off well into the future.


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