The Future of Work is Emotional Intelligence

In a report by the World Economic Forum (2018), it is predicted that by 2022 employers will look for emotional intelligence (EQ) even more than traditional measures of intelligence like IQ. This is not only in the recruitment drive but also in the teams, managers and boards that are already in employment. This is particularly interesting given that my research into how to create a high performance professional centres around being emotionally agile.

So what is EQ? Effectively it is emotional agility which is the skill of being able to be aware of the emotions that are present, the presence of mind to choose to engage and then the inner confidence to act if necessary (David 2016). Dr David confirms that those who are emotionally agile have far higher levels of EQ than your average person. Positive psychologists such as Shawn Achor (2016) have likened EQ to social intelligence the ability to understand theirs and others emotions and the ability to use this information to connect and communicate effectively. In fact, Shawn says that higher levels of EQ indicate a better predictor of success than high levels of IQ. If you are emotionally aware you can build strong teams who, Shawn’s research has shown, are 50% more likely to achieve their goals than individuals working in siloes. My own studies have revealed that those leaders who are compassionate have far more resilience in themselves and their teams.

It is commonly known that IQ is limiting when it comes to performance. IQ, which means intelligence quotient, is a measure of a person’s reasoning ability. In short, it is supposed to gauge how well someone can use information and logic to answer questions or make predictions. IQ tests begin to assess this by measuring short- and long-term memory. IQ is a useful measure of logical reasoning and memory however it is not going to enable employees to build relationships and powerful teams. However, IQ is important and when looking at the overall productivity, success and wellbeing of an individual Gallup (2021) advises that individuals are multi-faceted therefore its better to consider IQ and EQ in combination.

Despite its obvious benefits, my investigations into workplace emotional intelligence have revealed that not a lot is known about how to develop EQ in organisations. This can have a dramatic effect on personal and organisational resiliency levels as higher EQ helps to connect with the emotion that is being felt and provides a source of answers to help resolve any conflict. Due to the pandemic there has been an epidemic of stress and burnout. One of the key interventions used in burnout treatment is compassion because this enables a person to come to full experience their emotions, this develops awareness of actually how they are feeling which leads into acceptance of their present state. There is a framework I like to use when working with leaders of organisation called the conscious leader. This system equips leaders with all the emotional intelligence tools they need lead their organisations from a connected and kind place as well as one that has a key business logic and direction.

There are some steps that you can take now to improve your EQ.  Leading expert in compassion Dr Kristin Neff (2018) advocates the three below exercises and having practiced them myself I can confirm my EQ has increased over a short time.

  1. If you experience an emotion take a second before you react. This is a mindfulness practice that allows us the power of choice about how we react to a feeling.
  2. Be present with your feelings. Get used to feeling them and allow them to come. Don’t push them away with distractions. The purpose of this is to understand how our emotions are affecting us and, in turn, affecting our actions and behaviours. You might find your communication is affected heavily by your emotional state at work.
  3. Give yourself the permission to accept how you feel. Through acceptance comes resolution and through resolution we can choose to take action.



Achor, S (2016) A Joosr guide to The happiness advantage by Shawn Achor. Clitheroe, United Kingdom: Joosr Ltd.

David, S. (2016) Emotional agility. Clitheroe: Joosr Ltd.

Gallup, I (2021) Why Performance Development Shouldn’t Rely on EQ. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 February 2021].

Neff, K., 2018. Setting the Record Straight About the Self-Compassion Scale. Mindfulness, 10(1), pp.200-202.

World Economic Forum, 2018. The Future of Jobs. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 February 2021].