In a workplace that is complex, volatile, uncertain, or prone to ambiguity, agility is more important than ever for achieving success. However, for a workplace to remain agile, the people making it up must develop their EQ, or emotional intelligence—this is a sophisticated characteristic that has not typically been demanded of an employee before. One of the first approaches to developing emotional intelligence is to use an EQ appraisal. These provide a method of capturing a snapshot of a person’s individual EQ at one moment in time. Of course, this is only a first step. Knowing and acknowledging your own emotional intelligence is a great start, but it’s a whole different ball game to actually develop it and put it to good use in the workplace, and another thing entirely to drive organizational-scale performance by using it. The key question, therefore, is this: How can an organization develop the EQ of its workforce in such a way that they are supporting a thriving, agile work culture? 

In this article, the associations between emotional intelligence and agility are explored. This includes its perceived and measured impact on performance, both at the individual and organizational level, and the introduction of a methodology that has been proven to work at scale: Everything DiSC® Agile EQ™

The Era of Organizational Agility

More than just another buzzword, “agility” has become a ubiquitous requirement in the modern workplace. Challenges that couldn’t have been dreamed of only 5-10 years ago are commonplace now, and organizations must be ready for anything. Every smart, successful organization you can name is undergoing (or has already undergone) an agile transformation – right now. 

Why is this? What is it that is making so many organizations pivot to become more resilient? There are powerful, macroeconomic forces sweeping the world today: globalization, technology, diversity, and an ever-growing pool of competition. Of course, there is also the mother of all game-changers in the COVID-19 pandemic, a force that has proven to be completely beyond our powers of prediction and control. Thus, VUCA rules the day—volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Working with VUCA is an absolute necessity for any modern organization to succeed today. 

There are many ways a workplace may already have become more agile: flattening hierarchical management, introducing agile project management, emphasizing agility in the hiring process. The big picture, though, requires the people within an organization to each possess the skill to adapt and work with whatever they are faced with, logically, emotionally, and mentally. So, do you know what this means for the employees in your agile workplace?

Consider each of the following scenarios, which would be entirely plausible today:

  1. New competition has emerged, but they’re touting a new, disruptive technology you haven’t adapted to yet. Your Marketing, Technology, and Product Development teams need to be working full-tilt on a response, but Marketing has just lost a key person, Technology is bogged down with a yearly hardware overhaul, and Product Development is away on a conference. Do your teams have the capacity to pivot and rise to the occasion?
  2. Your primary supplier had a hurricane impact their manufacturing sites, and they’re totally offline. You can’t stop production for even a day – will your team be able to find a temporary supply in time?
  3. You’re expanding into international markets, but you still have to contend with the litany of new regulations, exchange rates, cultural differences, and legislation this entails. Will your staff be ready? Will they see this as exciting, or tedious?

Regardless of the specifics, it’s practically unavoidable that any organization won’t face some kind of radical disruption similar to those listed above in the near future. It’s not likely anyone had factored a years-long pandemic into their 2020 prospectus. To become more resilient to this type of disruption, modern companies are aiming to make all of their organizational processes more agile – and that’s just for starters. Processes are one thing, but you can’t remain an agile workplace if your people aren’t agile themselves. That means they need to be proactive, collaborative, self-starters. These are people who can communicate clearly, listen keenly, and engage in lifelong learning, with the ability to manage and even embrace chaos when it inevitably comes their way. 

The truly key 21st-century competency may in fact be agility. A Wiley survey of 2,500 professionals in 2020, 95 percent of whom were managers, directors, and executives, found agility—or the ease with which one adapts—to be a more important factor in workplace success today than it was five years ago. 90 percent of the study’s respondents, right up to the C-suite, noted agility as being more critical to their personal success than it had been five years ago. Employers today practically require it.

In our next video and article we’re going to talk about the psychology of the agile worker and what we can expect from workers who’ve developed their agility.

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Lastly, if you’d like to watch an on-demand webinar on how to develop the EQ necessary to support your thriving agile culture with Everything DiSC Agile EQ, learn more here:

Ty Miller is a Leadership Strategy Consultant at Carver & Associates. He Helps Leaders Cast A Vision, Align Their Teams To It, And Drive Execution Of That Vision.

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