The workplace is changing and if we want to keep up with these changes, we are required to change along with it. This nudging of change will require us to not only add to our current set of skills, but to also work on the skills that were previously not considered to be vital in ensuring success in the workplace. There was a time when an individual’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was the one measure used to determine if they would outperform other individuals – this is a measure of their cognitive ability, their capacity to learn and understand. Whereas, emotional intelligence is a different set of skills. Psychologists Savoy and Mayor defined it as the capacity to monitor your own and other people’s feelings, the ability to discern between various emotions and knowing how to manage them appropriately.

This is not a skill set reserved just for managers or employers. Imagine a world where both managers and employees are emotionally intelligent … this would create a company culture that encourages team work and will break down any of the barriers that might exist between “manager and direct report”. The workplace will then be a place people will want to be in, a place where they will want to explore their talents and grow holistically, even risking diverse opinions and new ideas.

Individuals with high emotional intelligence in the workplace are better equipped to handle stressful situations, they are able to handle pressure and can also hold off an emotional reaction in stressful conditions.

According to Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, emotional intelligence is founded on the following core areas:


What it is


Self awareness

Knowing who we are, our strengths and weaknesses and understanding how we are perceived in the workplace. It is also the ability to know how you make other people feel.

You can better understand the impact you have on your fellow colleagues.

Self management

You can regulate yourself and your emotions.

Individuals who can self-regulate are better equipped to handle stress and the pressure that comes with it. They can also anticipate stress and know how to deal with it accordingly.

Social awareness

When you are socially aware you have the ability to not only read a room but are also able to read people and better understand their emotions.

You can empathise with your fellow colleagues, you have the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and try to understand their situation and how they are feeling. It’s important to foster this skill as it will create a kinder working environment.

Relationship management

This refers to the ability to handle conflict and communicate clearly. It is the tools that one uses as a guide to building solid relationships – even with those who you have a difficult time working with.

Will assist you in getting your point across, it will guide how you best interact with everyone and enable you to hear varied perspectives.

Consider these facts published by Benjamin, B. (2019), Why Emotional Intelligence is a Critical Skill for Your Future Workforce:

  • The World Economic Forum ranked EI as the 6th more important skill for 2020 and beyond. It wasn’t even on the list on 2020!

  • McKinsey Group research states the need for soft skills will grow in every industry between now and 2030.

  • IHHP research has found that EI qualities account for 80% of what makes a leader exceptional.

  • Organisations like MetLife, IBM and UnitedHealth Group are investing heavily in developing the workforce of the future by teaching the skills of emotional intelligence.

The ability to solve complex problems and think on your feet are valuable attributes to have in the workplace but so is connecting with people and understanding the impact that we have on them. An EVP (Employee Value Proposition) in an organisation is all about the daily experience of work – not just the work, but how it feels to be there. Successful organisations have realised that it is important to cultivate an environment that will produce happy employees that also feel valued. Appealing to employees’ feelings and their senses encourages them to perform better, think innovatively and makes them loyal to the organisation.

With the rise of 4IR that will change our world of work, what can set us apart from the machines, is being human.

Didintle Kgasi is a reward analyst at 21st Century.