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Coronavirus: Why concept of 'EQ' is the key leadership quality firms will seek out

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Group of young adults, photographed from above, on various painted tarmac surface, at sunrise. (Getty)

The coronavirus pandemic has put leadership — the good and the bad — into the spotlight.

But throughout the crisis, executives from around the world have pointed out that empathy, vulnerability, and honesty is the key for being a great leader and colleague. Above all, when this crisis is over, executives say that these will be key attributes for when they look for the next generation of the workforce.

Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient, is vital to our success in the workplace and it is something employers are on the lookout for when hiring. Essentially, IQ is knowing things and EQ is knowing people.

Ranked one of the top 10 skills that employees need to possess to thrive at work by the World Economic Forum, EQ affects our self-awareness, how we interact with colleagues, bosses and clients and impacts how we make personal decisions. 

Gathering for a DIAL Global Digital Summit, where Verizon Media is a strategic partner, leaders at the world’s largest organisations discussed how companies can lead and win through inclusion and how organisations can craft better inclusion strategies for a competitive edge.

In the fifth session, entitled “Future-proofing the workplace and shaping the new and better ‘normal’ with people at its core,” executive leaders explained how they’re preparing for the future, however uncertain that may be, and tell us about their perception and challenges ahead in our new world of work.

READ MORE: Why employers want to hire people with 'emotional intelligence'

Ann Pickering, Former CHRO & Chief of Staff, O2 (Telefonica UK) (TEF) said that “going forward, trustful and empathetic leadership” will continue to be the key to unlocking productivity at a company. She said that “employers need to keep up with employees” and regardless of what the “new normal” looks like, it always comes down to the culture.

She said that “I have always said, working at company should be like a hotel, not a prison. Staff should choose to want to stay, not just work here because it pays the bills.” Pickering added that by fostering an inclusive and empathetic culture ultimately has led to “huge amounts of discretionary effort” when it comes to work.

“Board effectiveness has never been more critical. Boards may not understand that they need to change or the way they lead needs to change, but that’s what required going forward,” she said.

Pickering’s thoughts were supported by a range of executives from previous sessions at the DIAL Global Digital Summit. Bosses at Siemens (SIE.DE), Just Eat (JET.L), and Verizon Media (VZ) said that the crisis has actually turbo-charged some positives changes and presented opportunities to make the world of work a better place — such as empathetic leadership.