In the old economy, hierarchies pitted labor against management, with workers paid wages depending on their skills, but that is eroding as the rate of change accelerates.
Hierarchies are being replaced by networks; labour and management are uniting into teams; wages are coming in new mixtures of options, incentives and ownership; fixed jobs melt into fluid careers.
As business changes, so do the traits needed to survive, let alone excel. All these transitions put increased value on emotional intelligence.
Competitive pressures put a new value on people who are self-motivated, show initiative, have the inner drive for outdoing themselves, and are optimistic enough to take reversals and setbacks in their stride.
The ever-pressing need to serve customers and clients well and to work smoothly and creatively with an ever more diverse range of people makes the ability to empathise all the more essential.
At the same time, the meltdown of old hierarchies increases the importance of traditional people skills such as building bonds, influence and collaboration. And that is as true for employers as it is for employees.
The task of the leader draws on a wide range of personal skills.
Research has shown that emotional competence makes the crucial difference between mediocre leaders and the best. Indeed, emotional competence makes up about two thirds of the ingredients of star performance in general, but for outstanding leaders emotional competencies - as opposed to technical or cognitive cues - make up 80 to 100% of those listed by companies as crucial for success.
Star performers show significantly greater strengths in a range of emotional competencies, such as the skills of persuasion, team leadership, political awareness, self-confidence, and achievement drive. Empathy, one of the key elements of emotional intelligence, is central to good management; it is difficult to have a positive impact on others without first sensing how they feel and understanding their position.
People who are poor at reading emotional cues and inept at social interactions are very poor at influencing others in the workplace - fact!