In the past year, much has changed in our workplaces. Those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs have had to redefine our roles, our work schedules, our relationships, and more. And as we continue in the face of uncertainty, it is becoming more and more clear that in times of turmoil, a steady, emotionally competent leader is a must.
CEOs certainly feel that way, anyway. According to Gartner, 70% of hiring processes for new CIOs prioritise emotional intelligence (EQ). The research and advisory firm recently put out a report examining the future of leadership roles such as the CIO in 2021 and beyond, noting that soft skills would soon become a requirement — even more so than technical skills.
Gartner’s analysts found that the demand for ‘sensitivity’ — empathy towards others and an ability to act on this — from new CIO hires skyrocketed by 92% in 2020 alone. ‘Determination’, or resoluteness and the ability to translate decisions into actions despite difficulty, increased by 34% in the same time period.
According to the report, ‘emotional dexterity’ is becoming more and more central to a CIO’s position. This is a pretty major shift; traditionally, the role focused on technical skills and know-how. And while that is still, of course, a main consideration, CEOs are finding that the best leaders for their organisations are people who are able to weather the worst that the world can throw at them and remain calm and in control.
The importance of EQ for effective leadership is not a new concept; for years, high EQ has been linked to high performance, problem solving, and people management. However, it is in the aftermath of 2020 that we have found ourselves noticing just how crucial it is to be able to regulate and respond to our emotions and the emotions of others. Fast-moving changes have thrown most of us off our axis, but those with high EQ have been able to right themselves and lead their teams through this new paradigm. This has allowed them to take full advantage of any opportunities that come their way.
Even for those of us in less technical roles, this trend indicates a powerful turn towards emotional intelligence as a skill valued in any position of leadership. It is clear that, in order to last as a leader in a world that is ever-changing and increasingly isolated, the ability to empathise, remain calm and bring people together is invaluable.
What’s most interesting about this survey, however, is that the leaders who participated spend, on average, about 30 minutes each day focusing on learning and development. Though some are born with high levels of EQ, it is still a skill that can be learned and honed through the proper training.
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