Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, explains why emotional intelligence is more important than IQ – as he reflects on 2020

We’ve all heard the common phrase hindsight is 20/20. At the start of the pandemic concerns laid with productivity levels and the implementation of business processes. Yet, the question many business leaders must be asking themselves now is why so much time and effort was taken (prior to COVID-19) trying to mitigate the potential impact of remote working as employee expectations in a digital era were already building up against the perceived traditional methods of working.

Hindsight is 20/20, but we need to look at what we have learned:


Pride is the motivator to success

Employees have demonstrated to their employers that motivation to succeed is not rooted in being micro-managed and continually appraised, but rather because they take pride in their skills and projects. Therefore, individuals have shown their capabilities to adapt and that they are in fact driven by sense of achievement for themselves and for the business they are a part of.


Embracing challenges and driving change

Those working within a business have embraced challenges and come up with solutions and this has driven the change that is required for businesses to continue to operate in the new environment. The revolution of working practices in a digital age, which was being pushed forward with the context of risk averse business methodology, has been thrust into a new dawn where there is no going back. The future will be a balancing act of the positive attributes remote and office working delivers to create optimum conditions for each employee to perform at their best, based on their individual needs.

While businesses and their employees have been adapting to these new working practices, we have seen a shift in thought processes about how businesses can help with people’s development.  As mentioned above, the employees who have shifted to remote working have demonstrated to their employees that they have the technical skills to both cope and adapt with these changing circumstances but also have the expertise to continue to deliver for the business without the traditional support of physical proximity to their teams.


Emotional Intelligence is key

The conclusion that teams and the employees within have the necessary technical skill to deliver work successfully and to a high standard has been made by business leaders. What is lacking in places is Emotional Intelligence, the EQ as opposed to the IQ. This is the ability to handle new pressures, including, the separation of work and leisure, loneliness and coping with stress and uncertainty.  Managing in a remote world is not about developing individuals’ skills to deliver work but rather developing individuals’ strength to be resilient and thrive in their new working environments.


Empowering employees to take control

Now that we have lived with the pandemic for some time, an understanding that learning and development is no longer about giving clear direction and information has developed. To help improve individual’s ability to deliver their work they must be given tools and techniques to take control of their lives.  We are living in an age where the empowerment of individuals within a team is the true mark of great leadership.

It is about education, not instruction. It is not about process driven application to work but rather about the foundations for individuals to find their own paths in their development.  We are in an age where there are no firm answers to questions as there is no historical precedent which can give certainty to statements.


Finding new ways to connect and communicate

Working from our kitchen tables and spare bedrooms has taken away those office water cooler moments. It is these understated moments that we now know are critical to our development. Teams need to find new ways to connect and communicate, both with each other but also with their clients and their stakeholders.  They need to learn together and be empowered to both celebrate their successes, but also learn from their errors.


The critical difference is that this is no longer prescriptive as we are all learning afresh.  Businesses and business leaders have the opportunity, if they manage the situation right, to bind a team stronger as they come to rely on each other to navigate through these times.


Less about reflection and more about progression

The conversation about the virtual workplace is becoming less about reflection and more about how we can progress as individuals and teams to grow stronger. These are uncertain times for the business community but we are beginning to appreciate, now  more than ever, that enhancing these skills will hold individuals,  teams and as businesses in positions of resilience with stronger roots to withstand the challenges to survive and thrive in this uncharted new horizon.


About the author

Nick Gold is MD of Speakers Corner, former Chairman of the European Association of Speaker Bureaus and Co-Chair of the 2017 IASB (International Association of Speaker Bureaus)

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.