Whether you’re a top executive or in the front lines of an organisation, it’s become clear that employees measuring high in emotional intelligence are vital to driving innovation and enhanced customer tactics.

Emotional intelligence (EI) continues to be a competitive advantage for companies looking to foster a purpose-driven, future-focused workforce. However, it’s no good just talking about it – it’s crucial to get to grips with the importance of EI and find new ways to leverage it.

Yesterday’s thinking, one that doesn’t emphasise EI, is a significant liability in today’s ever-changing business environment. The top-down decision-making structures that we previously held onto have made way for collaborative, on-the-ground problem-solving.

The result? The ‘nice-to-have’ interpersonal and soft skills are now critical to front line staff, who’s on-the-fly decisions may have a severe impact on the business.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) doesn’t mince words on this subject: “Outstanding interpersonal and leadership skills are a must-have if organisations are going to keep pace with their competitors and the social cultures they inhabit. EI has been the traditional mainstay of empowered, engaged, and energetic corporate cultures. The combination of self-awareness, self-control, empathy, and social skills is the bedrock of the ability to deepen personal relationships and create an environment where people can comfortably innovate, solve problems together, and feel empowered to serve as ambassadors and champions for their brand on the front lines.”

Despite the differentiating power EI brings, HBR says that few companies focus on developing and empowering EI skills. That said, those who do are yield the results.

The HBR has found that Perceptive Organisations (less than one-fifth of organisations studied, who leverage off the value that EI brings) report considerably higher productivity levels and employee engagement, giving them the upper hand in terms of internal innovation, customer loyalty and ultimately, profitability.

According to the report, leading EI organisations are also far more successful at creating a purpose-led culture, an essential ingredient in any recipe that targets the Millennial sweet-spot, both as customers and as employees.

“In study after study, poor corporate cultures and those with languid purposes are often the primary obstacles standing in the way of everything from achieving digital transformation to creating exemplary customer experiences,” the HBR reiterates.

Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Education and author of Resonant Leadership, firmly believes that through the necessary pride of place for EI skills an organisation's innovative energy is boosted.

She points out, “When individuals are self-aware and feel more in control of their responses to situations and able to read people, groups, and cultures, then they can act on knowledge in very productive ways. You get advocacy, empowerment, and collective risk-taking".

The benefits of embracing EI skills outsmart low productivity, lukewarm innovation, and an uninspired workforce.

It doesn’t take genius-levels of traditional intelligence to see the importance of broadening the definition of ‘smarts’. When you think about it, it’s common sense to bring a little more human touch into the Workplace!