Emotional intelligence ‘is the most important factor affecting GCC businesses’

Author: Robert Jeffery | Date: 16 Nov 2016

Dubai HR Summit 2016: huge rise in millennial population means a different kind of leadership is required, say experts

Businesses in GCC countries will have to rapidly get to grips with the need for more emotionally intelligent leaders and leadership styles, delegates at the Dubai HR Summit were warned.
Describing emotional intelligence (EQ) as the “most relevant issue affecting GCC businesses”, Amanda White – managing director of IHS Dubai and management expert on local radio – said the preferences of millennial employees meant traditional forms of management, though prevalent, were simply not working.
“Millennials yearn to work with managers who listen to them and treat them fairly,” said White. “They want to form meaningful connections with their colleagues. Fifty per cent of the population are under 25 – as leaders, we have no choice but to learn EQ skills and behaviours.
“We need a shift in our leadership style. It has origins in command and control, and we have to reduce the ‘power difference’ that comes with that.”
Emotional intelligence is the idea that ability to relate to others, empathise and build consensus among individuals is an increasingly important route to business success, and can be every bit as powerful an indicator of future performance as traditional intelligence or past track record.
White was joined by Steven Stein, author of a number of studies and books on the topic, who said the US Air Force had been able to reduce attrition among its recruitment department by 52 per cent when it began hiring the most emotionally intelligent candidates. The new employees worked fewer hours and even reported happier marriages, but they were also measurably more productive.
“Some people believe business decisions are all logical and rational,” said Stein. “But there’s an emotional aspect to it every time. The people who are most emotionally intelligent know when it’s best to be emotional and when to be rational. But you increasingly need to be able to express emotion at work, to be able to maintain and develop relationships.”
Stein suggested increased emotional intelligence was an organisational goal as well as an individual one, and urged businesses to think differently about how they approached appraisals (which tended to be emotionally unfulfilling experiences) and recruitment (which could benefit from a focus on ‘fit’ as well as technical competence). Most of all, he said, businesses could become more “mission-driven”, explaining their purpose to employees in order to appeal to their emotional sides.