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The Role of Emotional Intelligence In Digital Transformation

Alexandra Gosmand

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As the lack of diversity in tech continues, the current situation for female digital leaders and tech entrepreneurs is bleak. Despite high demand for digital transformation leaders, a recent study by BCG shows that women only occupy 9% of leadership positions in the IT sector. So, when will the tech industry reflect the true gender population? 

 

For many, digital leadership means technological knowledge. However, it requires a much wider set of skills, including great communication, adaptability, motivation and empathy. These are all a part of emotional intelligence – an area where women excel. Let’s dive into what that means.

 

Key aspects to emotional intelligence

 

“There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning are all linked.”          — Eric Jensen

Emotional intelligence is quite often overlooked, or underestimated. Many have argued that the intelligence quotient, known as IQ, is too narrow to define intelligence: some have the ability to be academically smart, yet lack interpersonal skills. Interpersonal success encompasses a larger set of attributes other than IQ. This is where emotional intelligence comes in. 

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability and skill to identify and manage the emotions of one’s self and of others. It is found in a diversity of people covering a range of genders, backgrounds, ages and ethnicities. However, a recent study found that women outperform men on nearly all emotional intelligence measures. In 11 of 12 “emotional intelligence competencies” women outperform men. 

 

Here are a few examples of areas where women excelled:

 → Women scored in 54th percentile

  • Coaching and Mentoring

→ Women scored in 57th percentile

  • Organizational Awareness

→ Women scored in 56th percentile

  • Adaptability 

→ Women scoring in 54th percentile

 

Let’s look at how emotional intelligence applies to digital transformations and female leadership.

 

Why digital transformation requires emotional intelligence and more female leadership

 

Digital transformations are all about encompassing both hard and soft skills. These conclusive two are quite easy to distinguish: hard skills are defined as achieved qualification skills, such as machine operation, computer programming and marketing. On the other hand, soft skills are portrayed in personality, character and interactions with other people. 

LinkedIn recently analyzed and delivered the five most in-demand soft skills of 2020, as a result of the global health pandemic. These were defined as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and emotional intelligence.

Recent experts reveal the growing importance of soft skills in IT sectors. According to the company Adecco, only 22% of senior executives surveyed felt that their employees lacked technical skills, while 44% felt that these employees needed better soft skills.

It goes without saying that those who possess hard AND soft skills are better able to lead groups, and successfully drive digital transformations.

On the downside, studies show that women lack influence in digital technologies and the IT sector due to the glass ceiling, gender pay gap, and the male stereotype. According to Toptal, only 7% of women occupy technology-related jobs, compared to a whopping… 93% men- we cannot sugarcoat this fact! Globally, women represent16% of senior leadership positions in the information technology industry and only 3% are CEOs, as reported by Credit Suisse. Clearly, there is an overall need for women to be a part of digital transformations.

Thus, taking into account the previous study on women who thrive in emotional intelligence, it is vital to onboard more women in digital transformations.

 

Diversity in Digital Transformation: four tips to success

 

    1. Foster employee inclusivity

This first step is the most obvious one: diversity in the workplace can only arise if management fosters a top-down company culture of diversity and inclusion. Now more than ever, management must understand employee well being and the importance of a sense of belonging within the company. There is a need for digital connection and openness to inclusivity in the workplace. Check out this article which explains the benefits of hiring people from diverse backgrounds.

 

    2. Open new doors for female leadership

This second step also seems like a giveaway: women will follow their ambitions if they have the space to do so. As mentioned previously, there is a massive gender gap in the IT workplace. Here are 3 ways we can all work together to attract more women into IT sectors:

 

  • Inciting interest from an early age 

Families and schools have a massive influence on children to become interested in STEM subjects: it has to be up to them to prevent negative stereotypes and encourage young women at home, in primary and secondary schools, and whilst applying for subjects at university.

 

  • Flexible working hours 

Due to (too oftenly maintained) gender roles, women to this day remain the primary caretakers when it comes to children. Naturally, working hours can sometimes steer women away from jobs which demand longer working hours. However, recent studies on the ongoing pandemic have shown that flexibility in working hours tends to result in higher job satisfaction and job growth. So, allow women to have more flexible work hours, and a better work-life balance. Don’t forget that stay at home dads are a thing too, and women can be the main breadwinners – time to break up gender roles!

 

  • Trainings and mentorships

Organizations which offer IT training for women to advance them to senior positions will attract more women and retain talents, enhancing the overall skills in the organization. Also, being around women in tech is a contributing factor to confidence in following a career in tech because it removes feelings of being under qualified. Check out this podcast by Tarah Beyers who elaborates on the importance of training and mentorships for women, in order to gain confidence in their skill sets. 

 

     3. Enhance your emotional intelligence skill set

Keep in mind that while the statistics are very positive, not all women have highly developed emotional intelligence. The solution? Simply focus on the emotional intelligence skills to be improved, in order to grow as a transformational leader. Read this article to find out how you can concretely improve these skills.

 

     4. Personal stories about successful digital transformations

High-level IT professional Elisabeth Oppenauer highlights these four personal growth factors to success in digital transformation : Active personal network, strong communicative skills, good knowhow about new technologies, and the courage to make unpopular decisions. Learn more about these five powerful women who discuss growth tips in digital transformations.

 

Conclusion

 

Women are ready to take on executive roles in digital transformation. They have the personal and professional skills that are needed to succeed in a digital world, and their high degrees of emotional intelligence can only compliment digital transformations. We must act together to increase the chances of women in IT-based jobs by breaking down gender roles, mentoring, and/or allowing flexibility to work such jobs. 

Many new chances and opportunities only arise for companies which know how to adapt. 

Finally, although the ongoing pandemic poses many challenges, it has positively opened new doors for women in IT: here’s how.

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