Emotional IQ counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined in determining who will be successful, according to a report from Harvard Business School.

This surprising finding indicates that emotional intelligence isn’t just a nice-to-have, but a required characteristic to forming successful relationships. It’s arguably one of the essential leadership skills of the 21st century, and the good news is that it can be learned.

 So, what is emotional intelligence? In short, it’s the ability to be aware of, understand, manage, and express your emotions, and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. A renowned expert on the topic is the author and psychologist Daniel Goleman, who with his partner, Richard Boyatzis, came out with the now-mainstream concept of the Emotional Competency Framework. This idea is comprised of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills. 

Conscious leaders need to stay relevant to the times. As work tasks are increasingly moved to robots, AI, and automation, it’s more critical than ever for leaders to be in touch with emotions and feelings. Life takes on a different and higher meaning when you experience the thrill of accessing your humanity. Here’s why a conscious leader in the 21st century places so much value on emotional intelligence and how you can embody it, too.

1. CONSCIOUS LEADERS ADAPT TO EVOLUTION AND EXPAND THEIR MINDSET

Evolution is pushing forward with or without us. As a result, the world is furiously changing and calling for bold social reform and environmental solutions to address growing challenges. Politicians and leaders of industry have to expand their mindsets and take the words of Albert Einstein seriously when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” 

 Many organizational change initiatives fail; in fact, only around 30 percent are said to succeed. The reason? Change experts suggest new structures and new systems, but leaders and people within these systems don’t change. You can’t change the world, change an organization or system, unless the people operating these systems change first. 

2. CONSCIOUS LEADERs USE ALL THREE HUMAN INTELLIGENCE CENTERS 

As a child, our cognitive intelligence is promoted above everything else. We enter an educational system that values logical thinking, knowledge, and linguistics, and prepares us through technical skills to function in a society that values the same. The creative arts are down-played and are usually the first to be cut when budgets are tight. It’s no wonder that leaders who come from traditional schooling systems, traditional MBA programs, and Ivy League institutions are programmed to use only one of the three intelligence centers (head, heart, and body). We are trained in making decisions and communicating from our rational, objective head-center while bypassing the tender wisdom of the heart and the experienced intuition of our gut.

3. CONSCIOUS LEADERS REPLACE COMPETITION WITH RELATIONSHIPS

As we gradually leave behind the systems, traditions, and machine mentality of the Industrial Age and open our hearts and minds to the emerging human-centric organization, the focus shifts to building relationships. Authentic connections are formed through clear and effective communication, integrity, trust, inclusion, and diversity. It’s what the workplace and the world are desperate for right now. Simple acts of kindness, respect, and empathy can determine the level of your employees’ engagement and loyalty.

4. CONSCIOUS LEADERS TRUST RESEARCH AROUND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Over the past few decades, mounting evidence has suggested that the potential for a leaders greatness is directly linked to high emotional intelligence. The University of Maryland found that 71 percent of hiring managers found EQ to be more important than IQ. Some of the attributes of high EQ leaders include being able to build solid relationships and inspire others, an ability to handle high stress levels, and those of others, someone better-equipped to manage and resolve conflicts, and a person more likely to lead by example.

 In the start-up world, this trend is becoming increasingly evident. Investors aren’t just looking for the next big idea; they’re also greatly concerned about the team. If they think the founder and the team won’t have the leadership potential to weather the rough-and-tumble of entrepreneurship, they might pass on investing. They are seeking mature leaders with people skills. 

5. CONSCIOUS LEADERS CREATE AND INNOVATE 

Artists aren’t the only creatives. Leaders must also allow creativity to flow freely to create the change needed to bring the world to wholeness. These are leaders who understand the power of the journey — through experimentation, questioning, listening, exploring, reflection, transformation, collaboration, and co-creation. Implementing these changes requires a “beginner’s mind” and a willingness to keep the channels of innovation open at all times. As a colleague of mine likes to say, “Innovation is not something we do; it’s something we are.”

6. CONSCIOUS LEADERs HEAL AND UNITE — NOT DIVIDE

Violent acts are no longer happening in far-off places. They’re happening in schools, churches, and workplaces all around us. 

Leaders of companies have an additional role to play: that of the healer. As they deal with the horrific aftermaths of shootings, opioid epidemics, health pandemics, political turmoil, and terror threats, they will need a plan in place to support employees, families, and the broader community. In times such as these, people look to leaders for strength, heart-centered action, and words of solace. This requires an empathetic and compassionate leader who is conscious of broader issues beyond the business they lead.