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The Emotional Edge: Why High EQ is the Key to Career Success in the Age of AI

We've heard about the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the last few years, but it made headline news in December 2022 with the emergence of ChatGPT.

We had fun writing family poems and songs over Christmas and marvelled at the speed and efficiency.

Nearly three months later, my inbox is full of invitations to webinars, podcasts and even one-day in-person events enticing me as a business owner to embrace AI and propel us into the 21st Century.

Conversations suggest that many of us will be out of work in the not-too-distant future, with only the likes of plumbers and electricians able to sleep at night with their jobs secure (at least for the time being!).

We have always prided ourselves on being a people business. Our values reflect this with our strap line being 'Great Businesses need Great People', but according to the latest reports, it's more about the technology than the people, so should I be worried? 

I don't think so, and let me explain why…

We don't use AI in our recruitment process because we don't deal with vast volumes of CVs, we only work on a small number of assignments at any one time, and we are fortunate to be able to dedicate time to evaluating each CV individually and interviewing all the candidates we put forward against a bespoke set of questions.

However, several recruitment firms and businesses successfully deal with large numbers of applicants using AI.

AI Algorithms can sift through hundreds of CVs, cover letters and online applications in seconds, shortlisting the most qualified candidates.

It can also evaluate and analyse video interviews, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language, providing a more in-depth insight into candidates.

However, as good as AI assessments are, they are not foolproof, and there is always a chance that the 'perfect' candidate could 'slip the net'.

Having spoken to candidates who have conducted AI video interviews, most have commented that they did not find it a great experience and felt they could have presented themselves in a better light.

However, the biggest drawback of AI is that it can't understand emotions or contexts, which is where the role of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) comes into play.

EQ is all about being able to recognise, understand, and handle your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This skill is becoming even more critical because no AI can copy these human traits. Yet, they are vital for making good relationships, communication that works, and successful teamwork.

Ironically, as a result, people with high EQ are more in demand than ever because they possess the skills needed to thrive in today's rapidly changing business environment. For example, they can communicate effectively, collaborate remotely, navigate cultural differences, build inclusive teams, and provide excellent customer service. As a result, employers who prioritise EQ are more likely to attract and retain top talent and succeed in the marketplace.

When I speak to hiring managers, EQ is often high on their list of required skills. This is because its value in businesses cannot be overstated. Here are some reasons why:

1.   Better communication: People with high EQ are better at understanding and communicating with others. They can read nonverbal cues, listen actively, and express themselves clearly, leading to more effective communication in the workplace.

2.   Improved leadership: Leaders with high EQ can inspire and motivate their team members, provide constructive feedback, and manage conflicts effectively. They can create a positive work environment and help their team members reach their full potential.

3.   Increased productivity: Employees with high EQ are more self-aware, which helps them manage their emotions and work more efficiently. They are also better at collaborating with others, leading to improved teamwork and increased productivity.

4.   Better customer service: Employees with high EQ can empathise with customers and understand their needs and concerns. They can provide better customer service and build stronger relationships with clients.

5.   Enhanced decision-making: People with high EQ can weigh their emotions against logical considerations and make more balanced decisions. They can also anticipate how their choices impact others, leading to more thoughtful and inclusive decision-making.

With the increasing demand for individuals with high EQ, can you improve your personal EQ?

Emotional Intelligence can be learned and developed over time. However, unlike personality traits which are relatively stable over time, emotional Intelligence can be improved through intentional effort and practice.

There are various ways to develop emotional intelligence skills, such as:

  1. Self-awareness: This involves understanding your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. You can build self-awareness by practising mindfulness, journaling, or seeking feedback from others.
  2. Self-regulation: This involves managing your own emotions and behaviours. You can develop self-regulation by practising stress-management techniques, setting goals, or developing healthy habits.
  3. Motivation: This involves being driven by intrinsic goals rather than external rewards. You can develop motivation by identifying your values and purpose, setting goals that align with your values, and focusing on the intrinsic rewards of your work.
  4. Empathy: This involves understanding and responding to the emotions of others. You can develop empathy by practising active listening, asking open-ended questions, and putting yourself in other people's shoes.
  5. Social skills: This involves building and maintaining positive relationships with others. You can develop social skills by practising effective communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration.

It is important to note that developing emotional intelligence skills takes time and effort. It requires a willingness to be self-reflective, practice new behaviours, and seek feedback from others. However, with practice and commitment, anyone can improve their emotional Intelligence and become a more effective leader, team member, and overall happier and fulfilled person.


It's an overwhelming yes!

Although AI is making giant steps forward, the human touch is still invaluable in Financial Services businesses. Employing talent with high EQ leads to better communication, improved leadership, increased productivity, better customer service, and enhanced decision-making.

When interviewing candidates, use behavioural-based questions to ask how they have handled situations in the past that require Emotional Intelligence, such as conflict resolution, self-awareness, empathy, and communication. 

Hiring managers should also be aware that meeting someone in person is the best way to gain valuable insights into an individual's EQ through assessing their body language, tone of voice and overall demeanour.

More than ever, businesses need the right people in the right roles. Individuals with high Emotional Intelligence are essential to the success of any company and are in high demand in today's rapidly changing business environment.