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Emotional Intelligence vs Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Work…

Workforce transformation is accelerating and many roles are being redefined with common themes of Automation and Artificial Intelligence impacting workplaces of the future. The 2018 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report outlines that in the next five years 54% of all employees will require up-skilling and retraining due to the impact of AI and Automation.

The World Economic Forum Report identifies Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is one of the top ten future skills identified for future workforce. As customers or colleagues we’ve all experienced the negative experience and impact of technical specialists, subject matter experts or a Manager with development gaps in ‘human skills’. Observable behaviours of these EQ skills gaps include common themes where these people seeming more focused on processes, reporting and data than people-based situations and the needs of others.

The PWC Workforce of the Future Report outlines how competing forces shaping automation and reclassification of work provide both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is the implications for the world or work and the opportunity is for workers who develop EQ skills to amplify their comparative advantage in delivering value.

Within the ‘human skill’ category, EQ capability becomes even more valuable over the next decade to differentiate workforce success as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over more routine and methodical tasks.  73% of 10,000 PwC survey respondents think technology can never replace the human mind.

Proactive planning and implementation to develop EQ Competencies in key areas provides measurable value in productivity and performance uplift at individual, team and organisational levels.

We use Mayer and Saloveys definition of EQ as the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth. Using this definition, future focussed workplaces should look at investing in developing workforce EQ competency and leadership EQ capability in four areas:

  • Concern for Others: Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, and being helpful and understanding on the job.
  • Cooperation: Be pleasant with others in the workplace and displaying cooperative behaviours and a positive attitude
  • Social Orientation: Works well with others rather than alone, and become personally connected with others in workplace environments.
  • Social Perceptiveness: Be aware of others reactions and understand why people react as they do.

As AI and Automation shape the Future of Work, ‘human skill’ development will become increasingly vital and more in demand than ever to meet the needs of labour and global markets . Developing core EQ competencies as part of the focus on ‘human skills’ allows organisations to adapt to the rebalancing of workplace skills and reclassification of workforce roles impacted directly or indirectly by Automation and Artificial Intelligence. Fostering “human skills” such as these four EQ competencies mentioned here creates a clear competitive advantage for organisations. By developing this advantage in the workforce today, business leaders can develop more emotionally intelligent workers prepared for the future of work as the age of Automation and Artificial Intelligence transforms the modern workplace.


Brown et al (2018) PWC: Workforce of the Future – The Competing Forces Shaping 2030: May 2018. Source:

Beck, B., & Libert B. (2017) The Rise of AI Makes Emotional Intelligence More Important. Harvard Business Review: February 14 2017. Source:

Leopold T.A., et al (2018) The Future of Jobs Report 2018 in Leopold T.A, et al (Eds) World Economic Forum Insight Report: September 2018. Centre for the New Economy and Society. Source:

Mayer, J.D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey& D. Sluyter(Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications(pp. 3-31). New York: Basic Books