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5 Essential 2021 Workplace Soft Skills (And How to Recognize Them)

Yes, workplace soft skills still matter. In fact, amid our ever-changing “new normal,” the intangible qualities that focus on behavior, personal traits and cognitive capabilities are more in-demand than at any other time in the modern workplace. They are also more challenging to recognize.

According to Deloitte, 90% of organizations are redesigning roles and teams. Perhaps no surprise, traits like adaptability continue to be in high demand as businesses adjust their operations to embrace remote work and other hybrid workplace models. At the same time, many job seekers are looking to make career transitions. Along the way, they’ll leverage the transferable, people-centered capabilities they currently possess.

In other words, we’ll soon be looking at a perfect storm for soft skills. Companies will covet them while candidates market themselves and their mastered soft skills to the best employers.

Top 5 Essential Soft Skills for 2021

So which workplace soft skills do employers require now? In our near-future of work, which soft skills will candidates need most to succeed?

Self-Management

The recent swing toward more autonomous working environments has changed everything. In the process, self-management has become one of the most in-demand — and marketable — soft skills. From everything to task ownership to time management, and self-motivation and the ability to set boundaries, this skill is a must-have in the workplace. A person who self-manages well also significantly reduces the risk of WFH burnout and Zoom fatigue.

Communication Skills

Good communication isn’t all about how we talk to others; it also involves active listening and the ability to keenly observe as well. Candidates must not only be articulate, but they must also be able to “see” beyond the spoken word and notice unproductive behaviors and patterns. Employees with expert communication abilities also tend to mitigate problems before they become a crisis and focus on collaborative solutions when they’re needed most. 

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (or “EQ”) is the ability to gauge and manage your own emotions while building productive relationships. EQ influences how well employees interact with one another — especially in remote or hybrid working environments. EQ also helps us increase performance, manage stress and conflict, and show much-needed gratitude. In a world of work where much of our communication happens via one-dimensional, tone-deaf text rather than in-person conversations, EQ will remain a top workplace soft skill for some time. 

Empathy

At one time, we didn’t associate empathy with the workplace. However, since we are now invited into everyone’s homes every day via Zoom, empathy is among the most sought-after soft skills. Especially when combined with a high level of emotional intelligence, empathy helps us read people and situations. When an employee has mastered empathy as a soft skill, they better exhibit adaptability, find it easier to build trust and connect quicker with remote team members. 

Self-Awareness

The mother of all soft skills, self-awareness, allows us to identify and develop the skills we may be lacking. Those with self-awareness pay attention to how they show up in different situations, especially during digital communications (like all those Zoom meetings). They ask for and are interested in and open to feedback from colleagues and leaders. Most importantly, they’re interested in personal and professional growth, achievement and contribution levels. 

How to Recognize These Five Workplace Soft Skills in Candidates

Candidates may not always be aware of their own soft skills. Or, especially during a virtual interview, they may not know how to articulate them). But savvy hiring teams can learn a lot during the application and interview process — virtual or traditional. 

For example, when a candidate completes an assigned, interview-related task on time and conveys their accomplishment to the recruiter, that’s a sign they have mastered self-management and communication skills. Similarly, candidates who give their former teammates credit while understanding how difficult it can be to remain productive during the pandemic display emotional intelligence and empathy. And those who display a passion for growth within a given role and as a member of a team — while understanding how they’ll need to adapt to fit into this new role — demonstrate acute self-awareness.

Want to truly assess mastery of the soft skills most important to your team or company? Be sure to leverage the many behavioral and situational tools available. 

For example, ask candidates to tell stories about how they handled various scenarios. Of course, don’t just rely on the candidate’s ability to serve as a storyteller. So ask the candidate’s references for insights on their workplace soft skills. For example, ask the reference to describe how the candidate handled specific situations involving stress and deadline-related pressure. To keep the conversation balanced, ask how they successfully rose to challenges and met opportunities to collaborate or lead.

Leverage Available Digital Resources

There is no doubt: Emerging technologies have helped us thrive during the pandemic. So why not take advantage of the many digital tools that have been developed and fine-tuned during the pandemic to better assess soft skills in candidates:

  • Video-based interview platforms that capture a candidates’ emotional nuances. We’ve found that reviewing videos after the initial discussion can reveal even more than noticed during the first couple rounds of interviews. Specifically, that review can provide hints that a candidate hasn’t quite mastered a specific soft skill. 
  • Virtual reality (VR) assessments can immerse candidates in a simulated world of the job and working conditions. These VR platforms help crystallize an excellent candidate experience. They also have tremendous recruiting advantages; some have increased work efficiency in industrial settings by 60%.

Recognizing Workplace Soft Skills: A Soft Skill of Its Own

A quick look at an application, resume, and LinkedIn profile will tell you most of what you need to know on the technical and professional side of the hiring process. We’ve all gotten pretty good at that side of the equation.

But screening for these five workplace soft skills is a skill all unto itself. By taking the time to master this skill, however — and by learning how to recognize the most in-demand soft skills for 2021 — you’ll help secure the best possible candidates for your company.

 

Image by Airdone

[#WorkTrends] EQ: The Key to Leading High Performing Cultures in Uncertain Times

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, has been a regular topic in the workplace for some time now. And yet, in these uncertain times and while more of us must work independently conversations around EQ have gained momentum.

So what does EQ mean in terms of today’s workplaces? How are employers taking a fresh look at emotional intelligence while adjusting to new forces in the workplace? Let’s discuss!

Our Guest: Jamelle Lindo, EQ and Leadership Coach

On this episode of #WorkTrends, Jamelle Lindo — an emotional intelligence leadership coach — joins us to discuss EQ’s impact on today’s workforce.  Jamelle has published several thought leadership pieces on Forbes, where he resides as a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. So I couldn’t wait to get our conversation started. First, I asked Jamelle to help us define today’s version of EQ: 

“Simply put, emotional intelligence is about being smart about our emotions,” Jamelle said. He then added: “And not just your emotions, but also the emotions of other people. The reason why that’s important, especially today because this is an extremely emotional time.”

“We are in a pandemic, but we still have to show up for our families, for our businesses, for our clients.”

To help us frame EQ for the workplace, Jamelle filled in some blanks: “The interesting thing about emotional intelligence? Most people think it’s one skill. The reality is, EQ is actually an umbrella term that refers to many skills that tie into our emotionality; things like empathy, assertiveness, self-confidence, and stress resilience.”

EQ’s Role in Today’s Ever-Changing Workplace

I asked Jamelle how today’s best leaders leverage emotional intelligence to support their teams in these trying times. Jamell’s answer helped put everything in perspective: 

“The most important thing that a leader can do is walk the talk; they must develop their own EQ. That starts with self-awareness, which is the gateway skill that leads to everything else, including empathy. You cultivate self-awareness by developing an ability to stop, pause, and reflect on what you’re experiencing.” After saying this sounds easy, but that most leaders struggle in this area, Jamelle gave us a startling statistic: 

“Although most of us identify as being self-aware, only 10 to 15% of us actually are.”

To learn more about how EQ plays helps your organization achieve its mission — especially in the remote work era we’re in now– be sure to listen to my entire conversation with Jamelle!

Find Jamelle on LinkedIn and learn more about his work at JamelleLindo.com.

Editor’s note: We’ve given our #WorkTrends Podcast page (and also our FAQ page) a fresh, new look. Please tell us your thoughts?

 

Photo: Obi Onyeador

Love Starts with Leadership

Around here we celebrate Valentine’s Day sentiments all the time. We tell each other how much we appreciate, cherish, are wowed by, awed by, impressed by, and value each other. It’s not in our culture deck (we don’t have one since we’re always flexing and morphing to grow and change with the world of work). It’s not in the rulebook and it’s not even in any of the job descriptions. It’s just in the ethos of TalentCulture. 

I’m showing you a glimpse of how we work to make a point: all that love? It’s up to me. Daily, I’m aware of a deep sense of responsibility: I founded this company, and it’s up to me to make sure we’re all feeling good about it and great about each other. It has to be that way: the people come first. And if we’re going to love each other it has to start with the leader. So, my lovelies, here’s the closest thing to a box of chocolates I can give you all: 4 tips on how to bring more love into the workspace, whatever shape that space takes:

Be emoji-ional

Consider your favorite brands, and then, if you would, reflect on a conversation you may have had via chat, or a text, or on a social media platform. I love that brand. I heart that brand. Or you may have dropped literal heart emojis on someone’s text recently to express your absolute affirmation for their observation or idea. 

Social media has made it stunningly easier to express our feelings in a lighter, more informal way — which is far more appropriate for the workplace than any written declarations, let’s face it. The more we blend social into our workspaces, the easier it is to spread that love around. 

Get inspired.

Going back through the amazing posts we’ve published on TalentCulture.com, I realized we’ve always been interested in love. So, dear readers, here’s some reading material. Love and its impact on the office has plenty of angles, including a new post by guest contributor Rebecca Shaw on a recent UK office romance study. The research uncovered a disquieting gap between how women and men perceive work entanglements — and puts the onus on HR to help equitably and safely untie the knots. 

A post on why engagement comes from the heart bears a re-visit, bringing up the value of emotional currency. Kevin Grossman, a longtime member of the TalentCulture family, wrote about the dance between love and money — and managed to bring prog-rock band Rush, AC/DC, Apple and Southwest Airlines under one “culture rocks” umbrella.  We tend to feel very emotional about our work — from colleagues to culture — and it helps to remember that this isn’t new, we’re just getting better, and smarter at dealing with it. 

Take a love inventory.

We do a lot of work with amazing HR tech innovators — and lately we’re covering a lot of ground on the subject of engagement and experience for both candidates and employees. A strategy that comes up again and again is actually asking your employees how they feel. Now that we have access to highly effective tools that can scale to needs and growth — such as surveys, check-ins, feedback and recognition platforms — there’s no excuse for ignoring your workforce’s emotional state of mind. Inaugurate a new campaign to find out how your people are doing, and that should include anyone on the workforce, from freelancers and independent workers to payroll employees to executives. We tend to overlook our own needs as much as anyone else’s, and leadership behavior models the behaviors that the workforce is going to adopt. 

Conduct surveys of employee/workforce sentiment  — short and sweet and frequent is better than long, arduous, and one-time. Include yourself and other leaders and high-level managers as well as the whole workforce. Use the data to reveal the realities of your work culture and workspaces, share it with the workforce, and then start taking action to remedy the weak spots. Transparency and action taken on feedback are definitely part of modern leadership’s love language. 

Practice emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence isn’t a new concept: it’s become a twenty-first century chestnut at this point. It has to do with how skillfully we manage our relationships and ourselves, and it’s been proven to correlate with our ability to perform. But I’m frequently struck but how far away from EQ we’ve gotten. Like many concepts that make a splash and send ripples through the HR field, EQ’s novelty has receded. A great piece in Inc. by Wanda Thibodeax introduces its close “cousins,” cognitive intelligence, success intelligences, and cultural intelligence (CQ). 

But EQ is just as important as ever. When we talk about using tact to deliver un-great news to job applicants, that’s EQ: and it’s akin to letting a suitor down easy because, well, they’re human. When I wrote about the power of some leaders to reach their people, one of the key factors is emotional intelligence — though these days, I’d gather other traits, such as kindness, honesty, respect, letting go and partnering as all part of being emotionally intelligent. Evolution is consolidation in this case, and we’ve come far since that piece first appeared, though with over 700,000 views by now, it’s clearly still hitting a sweet spot. To be perfectly honest, that makes me happy.

The bottom line — to feel love you have to bring the love yourself. It that means you spend a bit more time practicing some much-needed self-care, then do it. Get that box of chocolates, do the yoga class, plan the marathon training, go on vacation, take time to do something good for the planet, or volunteer. Whatever works. It’s your job to make everyone else feel good about themselves and the value they bring to your organization — and that means you need to feel good about yourself and your value as well. Go get yourself a Valentine-y card, then get everyone cards too, and watch the love start to catch on. 

#WorkTrends Recap: Building Your EQ

When you turn on your laptop or open your office door, what do you bring with you?

I’m not talking about your lunch. We all carry emotional baggage with us everywhere we go — including to work. Having emotions isn’t a bad thing — it’s what makes us human — but we’re all better served when we tune in to what we’re feeling and how those feelings affect our behavior.

On the #WorkTrends podcast, certified emotional intelligence trainer Valerie M. Sargent shared more about why EQ matters at work and how we can all become more emotionally intelligent. You can listen to the episode below, or keep reading for a recap.

What Do Emotions Have to Do With Work?

Emotional intelligence is sometimes called EI or EQ. EQ is an acronym for “emotional quotient,” as opposed to your “intelligence quotient.” And growing your EQ isn’t just about improving performance at work. Becoming self-aware and understanding your emotions can help improve relationships in all parts of your life.

Sargent says she first heard about emotional intelligence at a conference featuring Daniel Goleman, a psychologist who has written extensively about EQ. She’d never heard anyone talk about emotions at work; those two realms feel pretty separate most of the time. She realized that no one in her industry, multifamily real estate, was working with their teams on emotional intelligence — and that everyone needed to talk about it more.

“I started paying attention to situations where I saw people showing emotions in the field. When you’re managing apartment communities, you encounter so many personalities and emotional situations. Every company benefits from emotional intelligence.”

As she learned more about EQ and got certified in EQ coaching, Sargent realized that almost no one has any formal training about how to manage their emotions at work. “Everybody brings a history of how they were raised to deal with conflict or with difficult situations,” she says, but most schools and workplaces don’t provide proactive training.

One day, Sargent was on site at an apartment community, working with a talented leasing consultant. “She was so good at her job, but when something was going on with her personally, everyone could feel it. The whole office sensed something was wrong.”

When Sargent suggested gently that she take a personal day to sort out her emotions, the consultant started crying and said, “No one ever taught me how to leave emotions at the door. I don’t know what to do.”

That was a lightbulb moment for Sargent, who realized that we need to train people about how to understand and manage their emotions. If we don’t, people pick up bad habits, and toxic environments quickly start brewing.

How Can Leaders Set the Emotional Tone?

An organization’s emotional culture starts at the top. “Unfortunately, a lot of leaders don’t know what kind of emotional culture they’re creating,” she says. “For example, if you have a leader who’s a hothead and raises his or her voice when things aren’t going as planned, they make employees feel unsafe. How does that trickle down to the rest of the company? You’re building a culture of fear. That causes employee morale to drop, people leave and performance suffers in the organization.”

But if a leader is a good communicator who cares about his or her employees and makes sure every employee understands their roles and expectations, employees feel valued and buy into a shared purpose.

To build a healthy culture, leaders have to start with understanding their own emotions, she says. “It’s hard for leaders to manage their emotions when they don’t know what’s going on in their brains, or what their body language is saying.” Targeted EQ coaching can help leaders appraise what emotions they’re dealing with, and how they behave as a result. “Emotional intelligence starts with wanting to improve yourself, and realizing you aren’t perfect. We all have room for growth.”

How Can We All Manage Our Emotions?

Valerie teaches teams to pause. When you’re feeling frustrated, angry or upset, take a pause. Breathe. Look at other people’s perspectives and try to reframe the situation. Register what’s going on with your body. Reflect. And breathe some more. When we’re upset, our breathing can be very shallow, or we may hold our breath, she says. Just focusing on breathing can bring clarity and calm to a stressful situation.

She also recommends keeping a journal to keep track of emotional situations. “When you’re tracking that information, you can start to recognize patterns. Our brains are used to going down certain pathways of reaction. When we learn to identify those pathways, we can choose a different path — and that’s very, very powerful.”

If you’re looking for a tool to help you understand and manage your emotions, Sargent recommends smartphone apps that help with meditation and focus, like Calm, Living in Love and Holosync. She uses Living in Love to take 10-minute “napitations” when she’s feeling stressed.

Another app, MindPT, helps manage negative self-talk by reinforcing daily positive messages and images. And neuroscientist Daniel Amen’s BrainFitLife is a diagnostic tool to help you understand the type of brain you have, plus what supplements or nutrition might be helpful for you.

Finally, Sargent says we all need to manage our bodies to manage our emotions. If we’re not treating our bodies and brains well, it’s much more difficult to deal with stressful situations. So, she underlines the importance of getting enough sleep, eating well (including a good breakfast) and paying attention to how your body reacts when you’re stressed.

Leaders: Is Your "Work" Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

(Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Leaders: Is Your “Work” Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

(Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Gut Check: Leadership and Emotion #TChat Recap

We’ve all worked with them. Brilliant intellectuals who hold managerial titles — yet they struggle to form and sustain effective professional relationships.

They lack self-awareness, and seem even more clueless about how to deal with others. As leaders, they may be tolerated, ignored or even undermined. Despite their impressive credentials, they’re like fish out of water in the workplace.

These leaders desperately need an emotional Intelligence intervention. A gut check. Fortunately, talent development specialists agree that essential “soft skills” can be learned — although the process may be hard.

That’s the topic we tackled this week at #TChat Events with guest, Steve Gutzler, President of Leadership Quest and author of “Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership.” As one of the nation’s premier experts in emotional intelligence, leadership and personal transformation, Steve helped us explore the connection between EI and the ability to influence others.

(Editor’s Note: See #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

Defining Emotional Intelligence: What’s Inside?

At its core, emotional intelligence (EI) is about our ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Almost a decade ago, psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman, defined the 5 core components of emotional intelligence:

1) Self-awareness: Deep understanding of their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest — with themselves and others.

2) Self-regulation: Like an ongoing inner conversation, this frees people from becoming prisoners of their feelings. Self-regulators feel bad moods and emotional impulses, just as everyone does, but they’re able to control and even channel those responses in useful ways.

3) Motivation: Virtually all effective leaders display this trait. They’re driven to achieve beyond expectations — their own and everyone else’s. The key word here is achieve.

4) Empathy: This is the most easily recognized aspect of EI. We’ve all felt the empathy of a sensitive teacher or friend; we’ve all been struck by its absence in a stoic coach or boss. But in business, people are rarely praised, let alone rewarded, for their empathy.

5) Social Skill: As a dimension of EI, this is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not just friendliness — although people with high social skill are rarely mean-spirited. Rather, social skill is friendliness with a purpose. It’s about moving people in a desired direction, whether that’s agreement on a new marketing strategy or enthusiasm about a new product.

Emotional Intelligence: Leadership Secret Sauce?

Why is EI so vital? Today’s business environment is increasingly collaborative and team-oriented. To succeed in almost any mission, leaders must inspire and influence others. That’s where EI skills make all the difference. For better or worse, every interaction we have in the workplace has an impact on emotions, attitudes and motivation within us and within others. High-performing leaders understand this, and use it wisely.

What did our community have to say about this topic? Check out the resource links and highlights from this week’s #TChat conversation, below. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your experiences make concepts like EI more meaningful for us all.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Emotions, Leadership and Influence

SAT 12/14:

Steve Gutzler (2)

Watch the Preview hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post and “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Steve Gutzler. Read the Preview: “Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out.

SUN 12/15:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested ways that leaders can up their EI skills to help the talent in their organizations shine. Read: “Leadership Is About Emotion.”

MON 12/16 — WED 12/18:

Related Post:Psst! Leaders, Are You Really Listening?
Related Post:Managerial Magnets: Becoming a Leader Others Want to Follow

WED 12/18:

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Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with Steve Gutzler about why emotional intelligence matters in the workplace, and its connection with influence. Listen to the Radio replay now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Steve joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open, crowdsourcing conversation focused on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Leadership, Emotion and Influence

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Steve Gutzler for sharing your perspectives on emotional intelligence and leadership success. We value your time, your passion and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how leaders can be more successful by developing emotional intelligence? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Happy #TChatHoliday!

Our weekly #TChat Events are on hiatus until the New Year — mark your calendar for January 8th. We’re preparing to start 2014 strong, with a full month of forward-looking #TChat guests and topics that you won’t want to miss!

Meanwhile, the lights are always on here at TalentCulture, where we’ll continue to post relevant “world of work” content over the holiday. And as always, the conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media.

So make merry, enjoy this festive time of year, and we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for all the highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? You’re in luck — they’re right this way at the #TChat Recap: Gut Check: Emotions and Leadership.)

“It’s not personal — it’s strictly business.”
–Mario Puzo “The Godfather

Have you ever heard someone at work echo that classic line to dismiss their ruthless, destructive or self-serving behavior? In the past, that kind of cold-blooded Mafia mindset was all too prevalent in business. But these days it’s losing relevance, as emotional intelligence takes hold.

Although academics continue to debate various “EI” models, the core concept is simple. It’s based on the notion that the more mindful we are of the “human” side of business (in ourselves and others), the more effective our performance will be, and the more likely we’ll influence others’ performance.

While some people resist the term “emotional intelligence,” the concept is gaining traction. Some of the world’s most successful organizations — companies like Google and Microsoft — are actively developing emotional intelligence in their workforce. Why does it matter? And how can it “make” or “break” your professional reputation?

That’s the topic we’re discussing this week at #TChat Events, with EI expert, Steve Gutzler, President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle leadership consultancy, and author of “Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership.”

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Steve joined me for a G+ Hangout, where he briefly shared some fascinating insights about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

This week’s #TChat Events promise to be helpful for anyone who wants to work more effectively with and through others. So bring your questions and ideas — and let’s talk!

#TChat Events: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Influence

#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 18 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Steve Gutzler about why emotional intelligence matters in the workplace, and its connection with influence. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Dec 18 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Steve will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why is emotional intelligence so critical for today’s leaders?
Q2: How do emotional “soft skills” complement hard-edge business skills?
Q3: What is emotional hijacking vs. emotional self-management?
Q4: How can business leaders offer productive emotional influence?
Q5: What technologies can foster employee appreciation + emotional commitment?

We look forward to hearing your feedback, as talent-minded professionals, who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Emotional Intelligence: Inaugural #TChat Recap

Bravo! It’s safe to say that our first #TChat attracted talented, insightful participants eager to engage (one of our favorite verbs). You can read up on our preparation post to see our introduction of the chat idea to the community. This is a wonderful work in progress.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all welcomed for your like-mindedness and celebrated for your unique thinking.

At the intersection of Talent + Culture, you’re all right here.

Our community.  Your community.  The TalentCulture Community.

The first one was last night, November 16, from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET.  We discussed Emotional Intelligence and the importance of assessing it and developing it, which for us, is everything that makes a best place to work – the best talent (people) and the best workplace culture.

There are many varying definitions of emotional intelligence, but the one we used last night was:

Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to understand and manage their emotions and those of others.

You can check out the participation stats here, and the transcript, but we had a smart bunch of diverse folk during the hour and beyond.  Lots who believe that the two decades of science and research behind emotional intelligence is sound and valid, and yet many contrarians who thought EI is a whole bunch of hoo-hah.

During the hour alone, there were over 240 contributors and over 1,400 tweets.  Not sure how that compares with other Tweet Chats, but we certainly weren’t expecting that kind of response.  Thrilled, but didn’t expect it.

The questions we asked included:

  • Question #1: What role do emotions play in the workplace? And should they play a role?
  • Question #2: How do you deal with conflict in the workplace?
  • Question #3: How can emotional intelligence help (or hurt) employees engage with stakeholders both inside/outside a company?
  • Question #4: Are virtual/mobile workforces changing the way we emotionally engage (or don’t) and communicate with one another?
  • Question #5: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if he/she was highly emotionally intelligent?

Okay, so #5 was a joke.  You got us there.

For those of you who asked if companies are really investing in assessing and developing emotional intelligence to improve the bottom line (like @BethHarte — thank you!), here are some examples (EI and EQ are interchangeable):

  • According to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, for leadership positions, emotional intelligence is more important than cognitive intelligence.
  • At PepsiCo, executives identified as emotionally intelligent generated 10% more productivity and added nearly $4 million in economic value.
  • At Sheraton, an emotional intelligence initiative helped increase the company’s market share by 24%.
  • L’ Oreal realized a $91,370 increase per head for salespeople selected for EQ skills. The group also had 63% less turnover than sales staff not part of the EQ program.
  • Coca-Cola saw division leaders who developed EQ competencies outperform their targets by more than 15%. Division leaders who didn’t develop their EQ missed targets by the same margin.
  • The US Air Force reduced recruiter turnover from 35% annually to 5% annually by selecting candidates high in emotional intelligence. Total cost savings of $3 million per year on a $10,000 investment.
  • Hallmark Communities sales staff who developed emotional intelligence were 25% more productive than their low EQ counterparts and EQ was more important to executive job performance than character, strategic thinking, and focus on results.
I’ve included some tweet screen shots below from last night for your viewing pleasure.  A special thanks to our very own @MeghanMBiro and @TalentCulture for their ongoing dedication to innovation within the community and beyond.  Also, very special thank you’s go out to our community supporters @HRMargo @Brainzooming @Monster_WORKS @BillBoorman @sourcepov @TanveerNaseer @AvidCareerist @ValueIntoWords @KeppieCareers and countless others for their fabulous participatory support. We heart you all!

Join us for #TChat every Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. EST, 5-6 p.m. PT and 7-8 p.m. CT.

Next week’s topic to be announced soon! You can join in from all over the globe!