Emotional Competence in the Workplace | EAPA-SA

In January 2016, The World Economic Forum produced a report entitled The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution1 that predicts what the employment landscape will look like in 2020, after talking to chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global employers.

The report statesOn average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today, according to our respondents. Overall, social skills— such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control. In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.

This report lists the top 10 skills in 2020 as follows:

  1. Complex problem saving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision-making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility


Number 6 in the list, Emotional Intelligence, is also known as Emotional Competence or EQ, and is defined as how one recognises, understands, expresses and regulates One’s own emotions and responds to the emotions and interactions of others. 2

Workers with higher EQ are better able to work in teams, to adjust to change and be flexible. No matter how many degrees or other qualifications a person has, if that person does not have certain emotional qualities, he or she is less likely to succeed in the workplace. These qualities are likely to become increasingly important as the workplace continues to evolve to make room for technological advancement and innovations.

 There are five components to emotional competence at work3. These are:

  1. Self-awareness:  The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drivers, as well as their effects on others. If a person has a healthy sense of self-awareness, he or she understands their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as how their actions affect others. A person who is self-aware is usually better able to handle and learn from constructive criticism than one who is not.
  2. Self-regulation: The ability to control or redirect impulses and frame of mind, and the inclination to suspend judgment and think before acting.  A person with a high EQ can reveal their emotions in a mature fashion and exercise restraint when needed. Instead of smothering their feelings, he or she expresses them with restraint and control.
  3. Motivation: A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status, and a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.  Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated. They’re not motivated simply by money or a title. They are usually resilient and optimistic when they encounter disappointment and are driven by an inner ambition.
  4. Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and a skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. A person who has empathy has compassion and an understanding of human nature that allows him to connect with other people on an emotional level. The ability to empathize allows a person to provide great service and respond genuinely to others’ concerns.
  5. People skills: Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks and an ability to find common ground and build rapport with others. People who are emotionally intelligent are able to build rapport and trust quickly with others on their teams. They avoid power struggles and backstabbing. They usually enjoy other people and have the respect of others around them.

Emotional competence is widely accepted to be a key component of effective leadership. The ability to be intelligently in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness, knowing what is going on around you, can be a powerful tool for leading a team.  Just as it is important to seek new hires with emotional intelligence, it’s vital for managers and other business leaders to operate in emotionally intelligent ways to meet the needs of today’s workers.


1 http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_FOJ_Executive_Summary_Jobs.pdf

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_competence

3 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245755


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