5 Skills for Technologists to Develop Emotional IQ

5 Skills for Technologists to Develop Your Emotional IQ

By Charles Eaton

A foundation of technology has been laid — via the Internet, mobility and cloud — that has changed our professional and personal lives in profound and permanent ways.

We are connected. More Americans use the Internet than ever before — 90 percent in 2019, compared to 52 percent in 2000.

We are mobile. We use technology in more ways and places than ever before. Some 81 percent of Americans own smartphones today, which represents a huge increase from 2011 when just 35 percent did.

We have access. Thanks to the cloud, we can retrieve our documents and data no matter where we are located. By 2022, some 60 percent of organizations will rely upon the cloud — double the percentage of organizations from 2018. 

Two weeks ago, my blog also showed that a foundation had been laid for the rise of technologists. But technologists need to know more than just technology. They need to build their emotional IQ.


Foster Human Qualities

A report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings estimates that 25 percent of current U.S. employment faces high exposure to automation in the coming decade — and 70 percent of current task content is at risk for substitution. Among its recommendations for preparing our workforce for oncoming technological changes, the Brookings report suggested promoting a “constant learning mindset” and, more specifically, fostering “uniquely human qualities.”

Tech leaders recognize that we need to keep fostering human qualities, or often referred to as “soft skills” or “emotional IQ”, in our work and our workers. That’s what makes technologists more than just developers of tech but problem solvers.

Claude Silver, the chief heart officer at VaynerMedia, actually takes affront at the term “soft skills” and is on a mission to eradicate the term. In an interview, she said, “I’m throwing that term, ‘soft skills,’ out the window. I really want to create a revolution to kill it. It demeans who you and I are. It says that people who focus on emotional intelligence are not strong or worthy. But they’re necessary life skills. When you have dinner with your lover, or your family member, or your child, you should be using those skills. So why chuck them out the window the second you get to work?”

Even as artificial intelligence and machine learning becomes more commonplace, the emotional intelligence of human beings remains a skill these technologies can’t easily replicate.


5 Skills to Develop

A 2019 LinkedIn survey of senior leaders bears out this truth. In it, 57 percent of senior leaders said emotional intelligence among their employees was more important than hard skills. Further, they identified these specific skills as being critical to a successful work environment:


1. Creativity

Ranging from doodling on a napkin to putting a person on the moon, creativity transforms ideas into reality. The IT industry simply would not — could not — exist without creativity and creative problem-solving.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a researcher who studies happiness, believes creativity is essential to making life satisfying and meaningful. In his book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, he said, “Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives … most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity… When we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” ( Hear more in his TED talk.) 


2. Persuasion

One’s ability to influence how other people think and behave has been so critical to the advancement of humankind that the renowned philosopher Aristotle wrote an entire treatise on the topic.    

A recent Harvard Business Review article about persuasion credits this particular emotional intelligence gift for generating one-fourth or more of America’s national income. Wrote the author, Carmine Gallo, “Persuasion is no longer a ‘soft skill.’ It is a fundamental skill that can help you attract investors, sell products, build brands, inspire teams, and trigger movements. Persuasion is so important to billionaire Warren Buffett that the only diploma he proudly displays in his office is a public-speaking certificate from a Dale Carnegie course. He once told business students that improving their communication skills would boost their professional value by 50% — instantly.”


3. Collaboration

Collaboration is the art of working together to produce something. It’s the only way things can get done in hyperconnected workplaces and economies, but sometimes collaboration only extends to one’s direct team and not to other parts of a company. For any company to reach its potential, collaboration has to infuse the whole culture.

Dr. Linda A. Hill at Harvard Business School is an expert on leadership. After studying dozens of corporate executives renowned for their vision, Hill co-authored the book, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. In it, Hill says the most effective leaders act like “social architects.” They build culture and space that encourage employees to engage, support and help one another.

“In a persistently innovative company…people at all levels are encouraged to show their full selves at work, to share their strengths with colleagues from other areas, to take risks, to raise questions, even to disagree,” Hill said in an interview with Strategy+Business. “When you can unleash the power of the many like that, in a truly collaborative and productive spirit, it sparks what we call collective genius. 


4. Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability of an organism to alter itself or its behavior in response to changed circumstances or environment.

Each of us has the capacity for adaptability — it happens all day, every day. Have you ever had a flat tire? Been surprised with free tickets to an event? Taken an unexpected and unpleasant call on the phone? Or an unexpectedly pleasant one?

Adjusting one’s sails in the face of changing winds is adaptability.

Behavioral strategist Dr. Max McKeown has written about adaptability, believing it to be a major factor behind why people and organizations succeed or fail.  He said, “Because adaptability is all in your head, we can’t just flick a switch, but we can develop and trigger your innate ability to adapt to new situations. And we can adapt your situation to new goals to get something you want and to live and work in a way that is satisfying and successful. All failure is failure to adapt. All success is successful adaptation. Investing in high adaptability will lead to higher returns because people will redivert energy wasted in what doesn’t work into new success.”


5. Time Management

Laura Vanderkam, the author of several time management and productivity books, once pored over 900 diaries collected for a single day in March to better understand why time stresses out some folks more than others. She defines time management as spending more time on what really matters, and less time on what doesn’t. ( See her TED talk.)

If this seems easier said than done, Entrepreneur Magazine offers smart tips for identifying time leaks and working more productively.


Develop your Emotional IQ in Your Tech Training

To foster the next generation of technologists, I’m proud of the programs we’ve built at Creating IT Futures and CompTIA Tech Career Academy. Packed within our IT-Ready Technical Support program’s 240 hours of training, students receive dozens of hours of instruction on how to develop their emotional IQ. We recognize that our students need both hard tech skills and soft skills like communication and collaboration. Better yet, our employer partners appreciate that we’re delivering graduates that are well-rounded in both skills.

Within the IT-Ready curriculum, students get to use their creativity to solve problems. They learn to present to their classmates and later how to present themselves and make persuasive remarks to future employers. They collaborate with classmates and often form study groups. Much of the time, they’re already adaptable to changes, particularly as many of the students are career switchers, moving to tech from other industries. And with our strict attendance policy, graduates definitely understand the meaning of time management. Employers see all five of the skills LinkedIn’s study mentions in the emotional IQ of our graduates.

If you’re ready to build your emotional IQ, check out some of the links above, and if you’re ready to start your career as a technologist, I encourage you to apply to our next set of classes in 2021.


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