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In a fast-paced digital world, future leaders will require social and emotional intelligence to succeed

Posted on Monday, January 14, 2019

In a digitalised world with rapid flow of information, social and emotional skills should be rated at par with one’s technical skills, reports Sheetal Banchariya

In a world flooded with information, we are getting increasingly distracted and  fearful, which is leading to stress, dissatisfaction and depleting confidence level of youngsters. Social and emotional skills (SES) have become way more important today than it was two decades back.

As per a survey by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society, emotional intelligence, which does not feature in the top 10 most demanded skills today, will be one of the key features in 2021 list.

“Researches have proven that social and emotional skills are more relevant than academic skills in predicting life success. Universities and recruiters need to pay more attention to social and emotional learning (SEL) process to produce a cadre of emotionally intelligent generation of humans for the future world,” said Richard Davidson, William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin and co-author, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body.

Academic success

SEL is one of the basic building blocks that enable other forms of learning. It becomes difficult for students to learn academic concepts when they are unable to regulate their attention. Highlighting the directly proportional relationship between academic success and socio-emotional skills, Davidson added, “A large-scale research analysis conducted in the US with close to 280,000 school children revealed that on an average, kids who go through social and emotional learning programmes score 11% higher on a standardised test.”

“Creativity is missing from the Asian education system due to lack of education on the topic. Intellectual and emotional intelligence go hand in hand and the focus should now be on making SEL strategies widely available in universities,” said Anantha Duraiappah, director, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

SEL practices and effects

There are two important circuits of the brain that are affected when a person undergoes SEL programmes – one of the circuits is responsible for regulating the emotions and the other one is responsible for the regulation of attention. One can observe changes in the brain every two weeks of practice of meditation. 

Being a scientific researcher, Davidson has observer significant changes in the brain produced by simple meditation practices through brain imaging and MRIs. He added, “Following SEL practices such as meditation, reflection and self-awareness should easier in India than any other country in the world because they have been a part of Indian heritage. Scientific researches indicate these century-old practices are immensely effective.”

Relevance in workplaces

“Social and emotional skills enable an individual to attain and effectively apply the knowledge and attitude required to manage emotions, set and accomplish goals, feel and demonstrate empathy. Social and emotional skills make an individual not only functionally fit but also culturally fit for the organisation,” said Priti Singh, vice president, HR, South Asia, Mastercard.

Today’s workforce is multi-geographical, multi-cultured, and possesses skills that were unimagined a few years ago. They need to continuously collaborate in order to solve complex business problems. In both such cases, social and emotional skills are essential for leaders as well as employees to be able to engage with others across levels of hierarchy and influence people for supporting outcomes without formal authority or promise for reward.

Speaking about requirements of changing industries, Dedeepya Ajith John, Associate Director – Knowledge & Advisory, SHRM said, “Organisations demand the employees to be creative, balanced, productive and transparent in communication. It may be wise for candidates to pay attention to honing social and emotional skills apart from just the knowledge and achievements.

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