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  • Writer's pictureTom Bryant

Leaders need DEQ! Welcome to Digital Emotional Intelligence

In the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) report ‘The Future of Jobs’, Emotional Intelligence was listed as one of the most important job skills that employees must possess to become competitive in the global digital economy. We also know that ‘all things digital’ is an increasing imperative for any leader today. This leads us to the new leadership development challenge of having Digital Emotional Intelligence (DEQ).

A term that was popularised in the 1990s, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can be described as our ability to discern, comprehend, and manage our own emotions as well as those of others. For instance, individuals with EQ are capable of handling their own emotions when under stress or resolving conflicts among team members. Although technical skills such as coding and data analytics are vital in the digital economy, surveys have shown that many employers tend to hire candidates who are emotionally intelligent. This is due to the candidates’ capability to handle stress, collaborate with others, be receptive to feedback, make better decisions, and other EQ related skills, which are necessary for an organisation to succeed.

Digital skills and EQ are combining to make the types of digital leaders critical for today’s technological world.

We are learning more everyday 'why' EQ is important, now let’s establish exactly ‘what’ is Digital Emotional Intelligence (DEQ). After several years now specialising in digital transformation and digital leadership development, I’ve seen the emergence of vital new leadership skills and the growing importance of EQ in a digital world. I truly believe how I phrased the headliner of the DEQ section in the TFB website… ‘Taking it to the next level — moving beyond digital transformation.’ Transformation is happening, like it or not. We are now maturing digitally (well, I hope). But, what really is this new kid on the block — DEQ?

If (EQ) is the ability to understand, empathise and negotiate with other people, then DEQ is the ability to apply EQ in our increasingly digital, connected environments. The infographic below breaks out 9 of the key DEQ themes like Culture Resiliency (adaptation & resilience as work & societal norms change) and Digital Wellness (balancing technology with healthy boundaries & emotional health).

There is no shortage out there of research, development programmes, social media, blogs, etc., all about the qualities of digital leadership. They all basically boil down to the need for ‘AC/DC leaders’ — Agile, Connected, Developed (lifelong learner) and Customer-centric. These are the leadership competency results we want. How to get there is through developing DEQ components like Change Capacity (Positive attitude, flexibility & openness to change), Digital Dexterity (Knowledge of emerging technologies and use of digital tools) and Data Artistry (Ability to visualize & manage data for new insights).

Every organisation and world government I work with on digital transformation keeps proving what’s at the heart of DEQ. Most of you who know me, have heard my mantra now for years and I stand by it:

Digital is about people, not technology. It’s about emotional intelligence, not artificial intelligence.

Digital leaders are made, not born. All aspects of DEQ can be developed. Breaking the digital leadership conundrum out into clearly actionable aspects of DEQ seems to me the only ‘intelligent’ way to go about it.

Love your feedback, stories and suggestions.

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate have prevailed.’ — Charles Darwin

Find out more here.

Originally posted Oct 5th 2018

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