A survey of 775 leaders and employees worldwide reveals growing concerns about finding and keeping talent across all sectors and countries — and leadership bears the blame. When asked about top issues at work, respondents talked about "Talent" and "Retention" in 26.9% of the responses, more than twice the frequency of any other common concern. When asked about the top people-side issues at work, 58% of respondents identify leadership as the top problem (where only 51% did in 2010). "It’s powerful to read hundreds of responses from real leaders identifying what’s holding their organizations back, and the report has many of their actual responses," said Joshua Freedman, the lead author of the study and chief operating officer of Six Seconds – The Emotional Intelligence Network. "Over and over, they say that our organizations are failing to attract, retain and nurture talent, and they blame a lack of leadership," says Freedman. "Fortunately, some organizations — only 22.8% — are using emotional intelligence as a solution, and it’s working." The survey finds that organizations earn "C" and "D" grades on leadership effectiveness and leadership development. However, those in the 22.8% who use emotional intelligence — or being smart with feelings — as a key strategy earn a 32% advantage over the rest. Given the power of emotional intelligence as part of the solution, the good news is that when asked, "How aware are you of ’emotional intelligence’ and how it can be used in the workplace?" 42% respond "very aware," versus 38% in 2010. The conclusion is people are getting burned out. "The ‘do more with less’ recession experience is not sustainable, and people are feeling that," Freedman added. "There’s a growing perception of a shortage of talent — but only a few companies are taking this really seriously, and they’re going to be the winners."
While almost all of the respondents acknowledge that feelings are a significant part of their workplace issues, only a handful of organizations are seen to be taking emotional intelligence seriously. While emotional intelligence is rated a 4.5/5 on importance for solving the challenges, organizations earn a 2.6/5 on implementation — a 74% gap.
Senior executives rate their organizations 49% higher on implementing emotional intelligence (or EQ) than do middle managers — representing another large gap in perception. In terms of EQ awareness, there are also large differences in age (older leaders score higher), geography (the Middle East is the lowest), and industry (professional services and hospitality are the most serious about emotional intelligence — and education and government score the lowest).