Why Emotional Intelligence development is crucial in the future of work.

Brain image made out of various words

Emotional Intelligence development is pivotal in preparing our people for their future.

The 2016 World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report believed that Emotional Intelligence will be the second most sought after skill by employers by 2020. Likewise, a CareerBuilder survey found that 71% of employers value EQ over IQ during this 4th Industrial Revolution.

“Overall, social skills—such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control. Content skills (which include ICT literacy and active learning), cognitive abilities (such as creativity and mathematical reasoning) and process skills (such as active listening and critical thinking) will be a growing part of the core skills requirements for many industries.”


Fast-forward to 2020 and in our Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world, emotional-social intelligence skills have become even more needed.

Impact of Covid 19

The physical and mental health effects of economic recessions and social crises have been studied for decades and the science shows that economic downturns are associated with increased psychological distress and negative mental health outcomes.

As more and more companies, as well as state and local governments, tell employees to work from home, the evidence is that without the proper supports in place many employees lack the psychological and emotional resources to cope, much less thrive.

Prolonged isolation, lack of social support, financial strain, and loss of personal control inhibit effective emotional functioning. The evidence shows that this leads many employees to experience profound emotional distress and significant impairment in their ability to function in their personal life, as well as difficulties remaining productive at work.

A recent report on the looming mental health crisis released by Towers Watson entitled: ‘2020 Global Medical Trends Survey Report’, suggested that mental health disorders and stress are increasing in incidence all over the world. Citing the links between financial and job insecurity, and stress and poor health, the report warned that employers will shoulder the burden of lost productivity through a doubling of absenteeism and disengagement. The report went on to document that in many developed countries, 35% to 45% of absenteeism from work is already due to mental health problems.

Our organisations can’t wait. The time is now to develop your collective emotional capital.

Furthermore, Westpac Innovation Fund research on How might we design for the future of work in New Zealand? states

“We all need to adopt the stance of becoming lifelong learners – there will likely be fewer and fewer jobs for life. Soft skills such as analytical problem solving, emotional intelligence and resiliency will be increasingly desirable in the future of work”.

Research from across the world clearly shows that this is not only a New Zealand-based issue.

Building our emotional capital is the skill to ensure we are future-prepared.

There is however a misconception out there. That “emotional intelligence” is about understanding and managing our emotions. And that’s where it ends.

Sure, understanding our emotions, their impact on our behaviour and on those around us is central. Without this awareness, we can be like a bull in a china shop, creating chaos in our own and other’s worlds.

But it is so much more than that!

Developing our Emotional intelligence (yes it can be developed) can:

  • Support teams to collaborate effectively.
  • Build personal and collective empathy and relational skills.
  • Support people to find their voice and use it with straightforwardness and care.
  • Grow self-confidence.
  • Support mental calm and centeredness.
  • Develop grit and resilience.
  • Support people to find balance in their lives.
  • Grow collaboration and innovation

In my work, I have witnessed the growth for myself across multiple organisations, and know that when we invest in this development, there is a transformational cultural shift.

  • Leaders shift from control to collaboration.
  • Top-down leadership transforms into inspired conversations and shared goals.
  • Teams of people go from dysfunctional to dynamic.
  • Individuals shift from giving-up to becoming a go-getter.
  • People gripped by anxiety, getting into action.
  • Finger-pointers towards others, to become mirror-holders for self.
  • Imbalanced workaholics becoming realigned and centred.
  • Nervous communicators stepping from stage-fright to centre-stage.
  • People blowing their tops, breathing air into relationships.
  • Those silenced finding their voice with conviction.

What used to be called ‘soft-skills’, are now THE skills for our future.

It begins with emotional intelligence.

I am super excited to be speaking at the HRNZ virtual conference in November on the topic of Emotional Intelligence: Future-preparing our workforce.

I’m also happy to announce I’ll be speaking at [RE]LEARN: The Learning Innovation Festival! Join me Nov 9-20th and help positively change education worldwide!

World Economic Forum: Skills Stability 

Need a speaker?

There are plenty of speakers to choose from. I am not the norm. You won’t be bored to tears by the same ole’ approach and dribble. How about bringing Mary-Anne for the conference or all-staff day.

Give me a stage and I’ll own it. Give me a room and I’ll energise it. Give me your people and I’ll inform and inspire them. 

Need virtual delivery – no sweat! I have facilitated virtual full and half-day workshops, virtual keynote speaking at online conferences, and might I say, you still get the Mary-Anne goodness you deserve!

More details here


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