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The power of emotional intelligence

David Lumley
24 May 2022

The better people are at empathizing, listening, collaborating, innovating, adapting, and trust-building, the better and more fulfilled your workplace and external relationships will be.

The last two years have taken their toll on the working environment. Sure, people have grown accustomed to working from home and to meetings online, but our natural instinct is to be together. There’s no substitute for being in the same room, for sensing and responding to mood, to tone of voice, and to body language. It’s something we do instinctively.

This human facility is sometime called emotional intelligence. It’s a term that describes the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of oneself and of others, and to regulate one’s own.

We may feel that some people are more gifted at this sort of thing than others, but emotional intelligence is something we can all do better, and at Capgemini, we’re actively training our staff.

The need for human understanding

Why? Because in the modern business climate, where so much is conducted online, where remote working has increased the physical distance between people, and where transaction volumes make automation unavoidable, the need for human understanding is greater than ever.

We need to arm ourselves with a different toolkit to navigate in these new environments but still achieve our desired outcomes which is why emotional intelligence is even more crucial to success. In the changing circumstances we’ve all experienced, we need to focus on building cohesion between people, on feeling part of a high performing team, and creating and sustaining a sense of belonging.

What is emotional intelligence?

There are four main elements to emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness – understanding your own emotions and how they affect your performance
  • Self-management – controlling your emotions effectively, and taking positive initiatives
  • Social awareness – accurately gauging situations and people around you, for example, via empathy and organizational awareness
  • Relationship management – managing interactions with others to help them feel understood, for instance, via coaching, teamwork, conflict management, and inspirational leadership.

In short, the better people can be at empathizing, listening, collaborating, innovating, adapting, and trust-building, the better the workplace will be, the better the business’s external relationships will be, and the happier and more fulfilled those people will themselves be.

In a range of workshops, classes, and expert talks over a three-month course, our emotional intelligence training program uses a range of approaches to develop a more emotionally intelligent workforce. We’ve customized existing learning programs, and we’ve made technology and data available to help people grow in insight and understanding.

In addition, we use emotional intelligence as a foundation principle for promoting and rewarding talent, and we are also modifying our recruitment processes to include its evaluation.

Commercial and personal benefits

There are business benefits to emotional intelligence. For example, according to our own Capgemini Research Institute, it can improve team performance by at least 20%.

But there are other advantages. The emotional and mental wellbeing of employees is noticeably – and indeed, measurably – better. Fears of job loss are reduced. Openness to change is increased.

Customers benefit, too, not just from engaging with a happier and more motivated workforce, but because they, too, are now dealing with more emotionally intelligent people, who are taking the time to understand them better, and to make a connection.

This is a workplace evolution that we believe ought to be an essential element of the digital transformation for which so many businesses today are striving.  The changing world has shown that we need a different type of focus, and new skillsets. We need to be the glue between different parties, and to do that we need fresh perspectives, particularly in the new ways of working.

It’s true that actionable data, and streamlined processes, and automated online functions are all necessary in a fast-moving, high-volume world, and we hear these points made regularly. But the point remains that we lose sight of the human element at our peril.