Intelligence. There’s a word for you. And we now live in a modern world that is driven by both human and artificial intelligence. What humans used to think, write, process, and track in business, AI can now automate, process, and maintain with minimal human effort. Chatbots can communicate, even sounding like humans, and with deep machine learning, they can even evolve in their ability to respond in ways that make it difficult for some to know if they’re speaking to a human or a bot.
Our understanding of the power of artificial intelligence has just scratched the surface, as it seems we are only at the beginning of a very promising future of possibility. But there is an element in our businesses and society that can never be replaced by AI, and that’s the human element of emotional intelligence, and we need it more now than ever.
The very essence of an HR department is found in its name, human resources. Humans are the work force, and unlike robots and machines, humans have the emotions and feelings that make us…well, human, after all.
Let’s face it: we’re in a unique time in our history. We’re in a heated political climate, the media is in our face 24 hours a day, social media is a part of our life, technology is growing at an epic rate, we’re at the lowest un-employment rate in 50 years, and then there’s just plain ole life happening. With stress, depression, and anxiety at a seemingly record high, today’s leaders have to be able to navigate the nuances and rigors of our working environment with empathy and emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Beyond the above dictionary definition, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and relate to other people. Like intelligence, there are varying emotional intelligence IQs. There are plenty of examples of leaders who lack emotional intelligence, as it’s not a requirement to be a leader. However, leaders who have emotional intelligence, and people with higher emotional intelligence IQs are the ones who make positive differences in their organizations, and for the people around them.
What are the outcomes of leaders who employ high levels of emotional intelligence?
People Are Heard
It’s one thing to listen, and it’s another thing to hear. When jobs are on the line, and people are concerned about voicing their true opinions, HR professionals and leaders must be astute at being able to hear what someone is saying, not just listen to their words. They need to be able to comprehend what’s being said, even when it’s not being said directly. It’s a slippery slope, as you don’t want to interpret things differently than they are, but someone with emotional intelligence has the ability to ask the questions and create the space needed for someone to share what they’re feeling or thinking. People don’t just want you to listen, they want to be heard.
People Are Understood
Is there anything more frustrating than not being understood? Whether in business or personal life, people want, and need, to be understood. When emotional intelligence is employed, the need to be understood shifts to the desire to understand, and therein lies a huge difference. To be understood is great, to understand is power, and to be understood and to understand is sublime. Emotional intelligence leads someone to strive for understanding, instead of being driven by the need to be understood. When people are heard, and they feel understood, the dynamic of relationships changes, trust is built, and communication thrives.
People Are People
Emotional intelligence recognizes the need for people to be human. Missteps and mistakes are divinely human, and creating space to make mistakes and be able to recover from them, unleashes the power of people to innovate and try new things. When people understand that their humanity, the “good and the bad”, are accepted and wanted, they are free to perform at their most powerful level, because they are…human, after all.
In a world of robots, automation, chatbots, artificial intelligence, and technology, being human is a gift. Leaders with emotional intelligence help their workers embrace the challenges of living in our world today. With sensitivity, compassion, and empathy, people are free to be people, and that makes all the difference in the world!