Leadership

Why emotional intelligence is so important to achieving success at work

With successful executives like Jack Ma and Elon Musk warning society about robots taking over our jobs, it's natural to question the future state of the workforce.

But Musk has a trait that global career development expert Soulaima Gourani says gives him and other successful individuals a competitive advantage: emotional intelligence.

Gourani is a TED Talks mentor and works with both corporate clients and leaders worldwide, including Pope Francis, as World Economic Forum expert in behavioral science and education.

While your professional appearance and executive presence in the workplace are important, Gourani says what makes you most valuable is your human ability to be creative and connect with others.

"A lot of jobs are going to disappear, but the thing that we will always have that is more important is your emotional intelligence," she says.

Gourani defines emotional intelligence as having a "good understanding of yourself, self-control, empathy and a natural understanding of people's decisions, needs and desires.

"It is a deep human understanding and embracement of people who are different from yourself," she adds.

Gourani notes that advancing in the workplace requires more than being smart and having the technical capacity to get work done.

Meeting company goals are important, but being successful at work also demands the use of soft skills, the ability to communicate clearly, problem solve in teams and get along with others, she says.

"If you can handle people's diversity — people of a different age, different personalities, or educational backgrounds, for example — and you can handle the conflict that comes with that," Gourani says, "you will be the highest paid, most valuable employee in the company."

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