Prediction: Thriving in 2040
There’s no question we’re living through historic times. What’s most interesting about this is the significant shift that’s taking place underneath the surface. Like tectonic plates shifting – events are converging to create a new reality. We’re seeing previously muted voices of women and minorities bursting onto the scene, government struggling to show up for its people, children sharing more time with screens than each other and consumers realizing their power and demanding purpose from brands (to name a few). All these cultural and societal changes are leading to a necessary change – ushering in an era of connectedness. I see this as a new chapter for humanity where we begin to see ourselves in each other and reinforce our connection, instead of favoring differences and separation, in order to flourish.
Dramatic enough for a post that says prediction? Ok good. Now we can look at what this means for business. To ride this wave, and thrive, one trait will rise among businesses and distinguish the dominate leaders from the rest: Emotional Intelligence.
We know what Emotional Intelligence looks like in individuals. It is defined in the dictionary as: The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
I believe that as a society we’ve embraced the need for Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, more or less, and even understand its importance as leaders. It’s trendy to talk about being emotionally aware, being authentic and connected. This is a good thing – because it’s raising our awareness as a whole and taking hold.
But what happens when we apply a very human characteristic like Emotional Intelligence to a non-human entity like a business? This is where I believe we are getting tripped up at the moment. For a business to take on the characteristic of empathy and to have high EQ – the collective that makes up the business must all be elevated to that level. This means the leaders and employees, the day-to-day business decisions, marketing and communications, the list goes on…. all come from one root origin – empathy. If you think about it today – how many companies can you list that seem to be coming from this place?
If we go back to the concept of an era of connectedness – it’s easy then to see that in such a time, where connections are key to our survival, business will have to facilitate these connections. Without the ability to listen, understand people’s needs and develop the kind of structure that can quickly and nimbly shift to fit those needs – business in the era of connectedness will struggle to survive.
It’s not a new theory, not really – businesses have always had to evolve to stay ahead of market challenges and disruptions. During the 20th century, businesses had to navigate the industrial revolution, progressives and labor union demands, and the shift to digital and e-commerce. Each shift initially swept a whole set of businesses away making way for the ones that could ride the wave.
History exists to repeat itself -- it acts as a sort of warning system for its present audience. Which means if we’re smart, we will apply the lessons from those waves to what is about to come our way.
Here's what I’m curious about. Do you see these new traits of empathy and connection taking hold in your place of business? Or is Emotional Intelligence and empathy continuing to be written off as a touchy-feely thing you pretend to have to win over customers? Let me know - post to the comments below or send me a DM. I’d love to hear what you think.