How Emotional Intelligence Helps Leaders Win in The Age of Artificial Intelligence


Technology is transforming business. You can’t pick up a magazine or journal today without finding at least one article dedicated to the major shift in the way business and technology interact. At one time in the not too distant past, technology was a cost of doing business. Today, it has evolved into a major revenue generator for companies in all industries.

You can embrace a digital transformation wholeheartedly, but if you don't lead with emotional intelligence, you could lose the back-bone of your business.

In an era where virtually every company is a “tech company”, it’s no longer a question of “if and when” leaders should incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into their strategy, but “now and how”.

Our best advice for leaders during a time when robots seem to be taking over? First, ensure you have a great technology partner to guide you through this transformation so you don’t miss the opportunity to make your business more profitable and serve your customers better. Second, and with equal importance, don’t lose sight of the human side of your business – it’s what will help you build and maintain a culture that supports transformation now and in the future.

Your people are still the backbone.
The right technology partner can help you keep your business agile through digital transformation, but that’s only one part of the equation. Your culture needs to support that transformation, and the way to build that culture is to lead with emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is defined as “The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.

This is key to leadership success and you’ll notice that all great leaders follow this. It’s about mastering interpersonal relationships and empowering your team, inspiring them to take calculated risks and do their best work. None of this can happen if you don’t nurture the relationship, just as you would with a customer.

Celebrate their uniqueness.
As long as you have hired people who are aligned with your organization’s goals and values, their personalities and approaches can be completely different. In fact, that’s something you should encourage because a diversity of approaches will help you reach a broader market. You can be the glue that holds it all together by doing your job: ensuring that your team members fully understand the strategy and goals, especially during times of transformation. If they don’t end up reaching those goals, then you haven’t set them up for success by communicating the strategy clearly enough.

At Dell EMC Canada, our goal is to help customers leverage new technologies to drive revenue, reduce costs, and become more efficient. Our teams are aligned with this goal, and we trust them to achieve it using their own unique approaches. In fact, your ability to trust your team plays a huge part in your organization’s success. Organizations built on a culture of trust are far more likely to thrive and scale. This is why it’s a major part of our philosophy and we nurture it every day.

Embrace a realistic approach.
Emotional intelligence also comes into play when dealing with individual successes and drawbacks. When you promote someone, encourage them to be themselves in their new role. You didn’t promote them so they could fill someone else’s shoes. You promoted them because they bring something unique to the table. As they gain more experience in the position, they will evolve. And on the flipside, if you’re trying to motivate someone to do better, don’t try to mold them with robotic corporate rhetoric – talk to them and find out what might be affecting their work. In other words: Be real!

Sometimes as leaders we can be tempted to fall back on knee-jerk reactions to successes and failures. Both come along with taking risks, which is an essential part of driving business growth. Risk-taking is both encouraged and valued here at Dell EMC Canada, because you can’t learn or grow without it. This is where the control part of emotional intelligence comes in. To be an effective leader, you need to have a sense of realism. One of our favourite mantras here at Dell EMC Canada is: “Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems”. Celebrate successes but not too much or you could be blindsided when they don’t last. There’s always something to improve. And when things go south, don’t nitpick everything your team is doing wrong – take a genuine interest in learning how you can help them do better. Dell EMC has another great mantra that speaks to this very well: “Pleased but never satisfied”.

We’re all in this together.
Good leaders know that when you care about your customers, they’ll reward you with a fruitful, long-term relationship. The same can be said for your team. While artificial intelligence and machine learning make their way into our world, we shouldn’t surrender our humanity. It’s your responsibility as a leader to add your personal flare, treat your team like individuals, and trust their individual approaches. In turn, they’ll be motivated to work hard for you.

At the end of the day, you can embrace a digital transformation wholeheartedly, but if you don’t lead with emotional intelligence, you could lose the backbone of your business. Find a balance between both and you can build a resilient organization that survives and thrives through the next industrial revolution.

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