Trends in Leadership are Crying Out for Emotional Intelligence

According to a recent trend review from Forbes, there are 14 significant factors in leadership, human capital and culture that will shape organizations beyond 2018.

Of them, 10 out of 14 are directly impacted by the presence of (or lack of) observable Emotional Intelligence in leaders. According to the article, focus areas for leaders must include:

  1. Increasing emphasis on Empathetic Leadership
  2. Leading by actions and example
  3. Proactively elevating and retaining women leaders
  4. Taking workplace harassment more seriously
  5. Taking a stand on social and political issues
  6. Investing in human capital development
  7. Focusing on individual growth
  8. Promoting continuous education
  9. Embracing ‘work-life blend’
  10. Turning organizations into a truly customer-centric business


#1 Empathic leadership may feel like a lofty idea since the onset of 2017 seemed to sweep in a disheartening trend of increasingly polarized leadership – especially in all things politics. This new nasty amplified by the media may make for good ratings, but this doesn’t work for global business; customers come from every culture and ideology and they don’t respond well to polarizing perspectives. Having empathy as a leader allows for consideration of all the demographics and differences between your employees, customers and forces at play in building or disrupting your business.

#2 The world is moving to a “do as I do” reality versus the former “do as I say” model of leadership – in the era of social media, lightening quick viral news and reputation management, leaders cannot afford to lead by words alone. Deeds are what people pay attention to. And while EQ is an essential start to managing actions, it’s the expression of emotions into behaviors that are most important. Leaders can no longer just say they care, they have to display empathy it in a way others can see and believe.

#3 Gender bias has long been an issue in the corporate realm; but companies who diversify leadership more evenly between the sexes prove there is value—ROI even —in diversifying and balancing leadership. Women are considered to be more naturally empathic, good at reading and relating to the emotions of others and more balanced and deliberate in making financial decisions based on EQ.

#4 / #5 And while issues of harassment and political divide continue to dominate conversations, companies who proactively address a position of openness and inclusivity will outlive those who don’t. Up and coming generations put their money where their mindset is with regard to social values and transparency. Brands that align themselves with social causes and who take a stand against divisiveness are able to maintain brand authority longer with their loyal audiences than those who don’t. To set the right tone, leaders need to lead with EQ.

“Value-driven Gen Y and Gen Z talent will continue to leave command-and-control cultures for collaborative workplaces. The value of leadership empathy will be sky-high in 2018. The ability to understand, relate to and be sensitive to employees, colleagues and communities will be paramount. We will see an even greater emphasis on listening, relating and coaching to drive effective leadership.”

#6 Why the importance on investing in human capital? Because your people are your bread and butter. As jobs become more specialized and technology changes how we work, relationships still form the foundation of success. Relationships with customers, colleagues, team members or bosses shape our performance. People with high EQ simply perform better. Investment in soft skills training to develop empathy, resilience, communication and collaboration is crucial to performance.

#7 Focusing on the growth of the individual ensures each person is gaining the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to group performance. Individual training can approach both mindset and behavioral strategies that help employees focus more on being collaborative and less on conflict, become better at giving and receiving feedback, and encourage a more engaged culture.

“Leaders and companies will recognize the long-term benefit of focusing on human capital development. Taking a vested interest in helping employees thrive in all areas of their lives (not just work), will create more engagement, productivity and overall happier employees.”

#8 Promoting continuous education has long been a hallmark of L&D, because it works. Research into adult learning proves time and time again that skills previously considered “hard-wired traits” can be nurtured by training. Employees who work in companies that value education are more likely to report higher rates of satisfaction with their employer, higher scores for engagement and trust in leadership, and are more likely to remain with an employer even in stressful times.

#9 Training initiatives that improve EQ, Resilience, and other individual workplace skills have also been shown to carry over positive affects into employees’ personal lives. The new mantra of “work-life blend” (formerly “work-life balance”) raises the bar on how employees engage with companies. While this often includes approaches such as flex-time and community building, blending work and personal life is increasingly important to younger generations of workers who value experience over status or wealth.

#10 And finally, for organizations to become truly customer-centric, they need to know and understand their audience—not just their buying patterns or demographics—but really understand what drives customer behavior, motivation and ongoing loyalty. This requires empathy, awareness, communication and the ability to connect with customers on an emotional level. Emotional Intelligence drives this insight for individuals. When magnified across an organization, improving EQ translates into being better at solving problems for customers, drives stronger relationships and ensures that empathic leaders and employees model behavior that customers admire.

“With robust customer feedback mechanisms and reporting, there is simply no excuse for not adapting to what customers really want today. Customers are no longer loyal to a brand, they’re loyal to experiences that work for them. Talking is not enough. It’s time to act.”

So how does your organization measure up?


About Andrea CinqMars

Andrea serves as a Marketing Consultant for TRACOM. She is passionate about learning, and teaching others, how to improve human performance and elevate emotional and social intelligence. When she isn't reading, writing or attempting to design something, Andrea is out exploring her new home in Colorado.

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