The Emotionally Intelligent Employee: Preparing for the Human Skills of the Future

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As the nature of work evolves, emotional intelligence (EI) will become increasingly vital for professional success. EI is often depicted in four key quadrants: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. This model provides a solid foundation, but preparing for the future of work requires a more nuanced approach. The McKinsey Global Institute identified 56 DELTAs (Distinct Elements of Talent and Attitude) that can equip individuals to thrive in tomorrow’s workplace. McKinsey’s research involved 18,000 people in 15 countries and they “…identified 56 distinct elements of talent (DELTAs) that fall within these skills groups. We call them DELTAs, rather than skills, because they are a mix of skills and attitudes. “Adaptability” and “coping with uncertainty” are attitudes, for example.”

Many DELTAs map directly to EI competencies. This post considers the four classic EI quadrants and demonstrates where the DELTAs fit in (in my view). We’ll also explore how trauma-informed and Internal Family Systems approaches can further develop emotional maturity. By honing specific DELTAs within the four core EI quadrants, professionals can become more self-aware, socially tuned-in, and better able to handle workplace interactions in our fast-changing world.

Here are my suggestions for when TiQi leaders could introduce and focus on each of the 4 emotional intelligence quadrants, mapped to the 5 stages:

  • Self-Awareness: Introduce in Safety stage – Once team is less reactive, focus on building self-awareness skills like identifying emotions, triggers, strengths/weaknesses.
  • Self-Management: Introduce in Openness stage – After establishing self-awareness, team can work on managing emotions and adapting behaviors.
  • Social Awareness: Introduce in Connection stage – With team cohesion, shift to understanding others’ needs and perspectives.
  • Relationship Management: Introduce in Connection and Transcendence stages – With alignment and flow, team can collaborate seamlessly through strong communication, coaching, and conflict management.

In summary:

  • Survival: Focus on stabilization
  • Safety: Build Self-Awareness
  • Openness: Develop Self-Management
  • Connection: Foster Social Awareness, Enhance Relationship Management
  • Transcendence: Enhance Relationship Management

This allows each EQ competency to be introduced at the appropriate stage when the team is developmentally ready. Next we will look at what each quadrant is all about, with an eye towards the future of work!


Understanding your own emotions, drivers, and reactions

  • self-reflection
  • Awareness of strengths/weaknesses; awareness of risk taking, self-motivation and wellness, decisiveness, persistance, innovation, perspective-taking, competence, self-confidence, ethics and digital ethics, coping with uncertainty, passion, energy, optimism, integrity, humility, etc (see above sketch)
  • self-awareness and self-management
  • Understanding own emotions and triggers
  • Recognize how trauma may drive reactions and triggers
  • Approach oneself with patience and compassion
  • Identify different parts (managers, firefighters, exiles per IFS) that drive emotions and reactions; Understand each part’s role and approach with curiosity
  • Recognize how different polyvagal states (ventral vagal, sympathetic, dorsal vagal) affect your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors; Learn to shift from stressed to calm states


Managing your emotional reactions and behaviors

  • Impulse control
  • Stress management
  • self-discipline
  • Adaptability
  • self-control and regulation
  • Coping with uncertainty
  • Flexibility
  • Achievement orientation
  • Understand strong reactions may be a trauma response
  • Focus on safety, stabilization, and empowerment
  • Negotiate with protective parts blocking growth
  • Unburden exiles carrying trauma
  • More and more unobscure Self; have more Self Energy (Self leading parts)
  • Build capacity to self-regulate emotions and behaviors by managing polyvagal state shifts. Move from fight, flight, or freeze responses to grounded, centered presence; Helpful in remaining true to values and ethics (even if unpopular)
  • Managing bias
  • self coaching: Applying and fostering a growth mindset, learned optimism

Social Awareness

Understanding others’ perspectives and emotions

  • Empathy
  • Organizational awareness
  • Diversity appreciation
  • Active Listening
  • Recognize others’ behaviors through a trauma lens, while assessing personality/behavioral sytle, e.g. DiSC
  • Suspend judgement and listen openly
  • Perceive others’ parts and dynamics with compassion
  • Address protective parts kindly
  • Perceive cues in others that signal their internal polyvagal state, whether stressed/threatened or open/engaged; Empathize with their experiences
  • Focus on value, e.g. the many stakeholder perspectives on value
  • Seeking relevant info
  • Asking the right questions

Relationship Management

Handling interpersonal interactions effectively