EQ - The most important and in-demand competency in the coming years.

Margareta Sjölund, Ph.D. Chief Psychologist and Founder of EQ Europe and Kandidata Asia

There is no doubt that companies and organizations become more successful by measuring and developing emotional intelligence (EQ) among their leaders and employees. The World Economic Forum lists EQ as one of the most important and in-demand competencies companies will seek in 2020. The United Nations held a conference in May 2019 on EQas a key to conflict resolution, the Human Capital Institute published a study in 2013 showing the importance of including EQ in leadership training, and further research studies show EQ as the key to survival when AI takes over more and more jobs.

AI is taking over routine work and jobs are disappearing at an increasing rate, leading to major changes for both individuals and organizations, while new jobs and new roles are created.

AI is changing our view of work and one only needs to go into a grocery store or check in at an airport to see how automation has taken over and that many jobs are no longer needed.

But not all jobs can beautomated, and that is precisely what will ignite and drive increased demand for EQ competencies.

It is therefore increasingly important to focus on what is uniquely human, such as social and emotional abilities, which are difficult for machines to imitate.

Companies' demand for EQ will only grow to fill the new roles created by automation and AI. A consulting firm Cap Gemini study shows that 76% of global leaders believe that EQ will become essential to driving and developing successful companies. And it will happen quickly. These competencies are needed now, and demand will only increase.

only increase there is ongoing research to teach machines to express emotions, but it has proven difficult as human facial expressions are so subtle. So, even though there is a lot of buzz about emotionally intelligent AI systems, they are far from being realized.

AI is taking over old jobs and roles and will be a big part of our everyday lives, but it will also lead to EQ becoming increasingly important as new jobs and new roles emerge, and EQ competencies will be increasingly demanded by employers.

We have a changing job landscape characterized by constant change, and only those who have EQ skills in place will be able to keep up and retain their jobs compared to those who only have technical and digital skills.

Relying on IQ or technical and professional skills is no longer enough, as many of these skills and competencies will be replaced by AI.

Studies show that soon only 10-15% of many jobs will be about technical/professional competence, the rest will be about EQ.

A consulting firm Cap Gemini study shows that 74% of global leaders believe that EQ is critical for companies to grow and be profitable. And it's happening fast! Managers and employees need to have EQ competencies in place now, and demand will only increase.

750 leaders and 1,500employees were included in the global study by Cap Gemini, in which Sweden was also represented, and where it was found that:

• EQ will become an essential skill in the near future with a 6-fold increase in demand.

• Most companies' HR processes are not adapted to the new job landscape where AI takes over more and more jobs.

• An emotionally intelligent corporate culture benefits both the company's business operations and its employees.

So, what is EQ? Well, it has very little to do with being generally nice, social, or liked.

EQ is a measure of emotional intelligence that involves being able to understand yourself and how emotions affect your performance, and how to control and manage your emotions effectively.

It's also about how you manage relationships with others by assessing and reading situations and people around you. Important skills to have both in your personal life and at work.

But even though we now have this knowledge about EI, to few companies offer adequate training in EI for their employees.

AI development is advancing rapidly and companies must already begin preparing their managers and employees to start building EQ competencies, both for individual employees and to permeate the culture.

IQ matters but it doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't have the EQ abilities required in place and if you can't work with people and teams and understand how people react, you're doomed.

Most people want to improve their EQ (70% according to Cap Gemini) but only 1 in 5 companies support their managers and employees in doing so.

Over 75% of the companies in the study believe they can, but it's not being done. Policy documents are written and value exercises are done, but it's not followed up. A lot of fine words because it's something you're expected to do, but often poorly anchored to how people behave in practice. Our high sick leave rates due to psychosocial causes speak their clear language.

You can train your EQ! There are effective training programs used by various companies around the world, but the training must be formalized, i.e., focused on EQ. There must be a clear objective to raise EQ levels to get a workforce that will be better at building customer relationships, either directly or by developing new products and services.

So, how do you do it?

The following four points, based on "best practice," can be said to be the core of building an EQ culture and a map of how to do it:

1.     Integrate EQ. EQ-adapt existing development programs and make them available to all staff.

2.     Include EQ assessment in recruitment processes.

3.     Use EQ as a filter in talent management, promotions, and organizational changes.

4.     Use technology and IT knowledge to build an EQ culture.

Companies have a lot to gain by investing in EQ for their employees. There is interesting research showing that companies with ongoing development programs based on EQ have more effective organizations and higher profitability. Improved production, higher market shares, lower staff turnover, and reduced illness are what can be expected.

EQ Europe and Kandidata Asia have trained several thousand leaders in many different countries for many years.

Source: Human Capital, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: The Keys to Driving ROI and Organizational Performance 2013 and Emotional Intelligence, the essential skillset for the age of AI, Cap Gemini Research Institute, 2019"