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Tomorrow’s Leaders May be Losing Their Emotional Intelligence

Although the term “emotional intelligence” was coined by two psychology professors in 1990, it was not until eight years later when Daniel Goleman applied the notion of being able to “accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions” to business leadership in the Harvard Business Review. Since then, being able to connect with employees on an emotional level has taken on greater importance in the business world – until now.

“Ironically, those are the very skills hiring managers say the latest crop of college graduates lacks as they’ve focused on honing their technological prowess,” FastCompany reports. That could spell trouble for tomorrow’s business leaders.

It really would be a shame if future business leaders were not as emotionally intelligent as they are technologically adept because they would be missing a critical component of managing people. This is particularly ironic given all of our technological advances in communications. “Whether an employee is feeling joy over a successful sales week or sadness over a family member passing, an effective leader is able to express emotions to let that person know they are connecting with them on a heart level.”

It is not just employees’ emotions to which leaders need to be attuned; leaders must also recognize and manage their own emotions. In fact, being in synch with his or her own emotions may be one of the most important components of leadership. “A leader who is not managing his or her emotions can wreak severe havoc on an organization, seriously damaging employee morale, retention, and ultimately the bottom line. Every reaction – positive or negative – will have consequences for all those who are under them and effect the overall success of the company.”

Not surprisingly, self-awareness and self-regulation are the top two components of emotional intelligence that allow people to connect and learn from their own and others’ mental states, says Harvard Business Review. The other three are motivation; the passion for work that transcends money and status, empathy for others; and social skills, such as managing relationships and building networks.

Tomorrow’s leaders will eventually realize they are lacking emotional intelligence as the cohort works its way up the corporate food chain. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later because “the stuff hits the fan when leaders discover they cannot lead just because they are the smartest kids in the room.” The good news is that generally speaking, people can become empathetic when it comes to managing employees if he or she chooses to develop that facet of their leadership repertoire. To be sure, some people seem to come by it naturally, but it can be a learned skill with tremendous value. “The ability to connect with another person on an intimate level – when we do that, we change the relationship.