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According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.

In his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2016), Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes the world’s new opportunities and challenges presented by digital and technological progress and the exponential speed at which this is evolving.

General Manager for Microsoft in Brazil, Paula Bellizia describes it thus in her LinkedIn post of September 2016: “… this new revolution is marked by the merger of technologies that is blurring the limits across the physical, biological and digital worlds, imposing challenges to all kinds of businesses and opening unprecedented innovation opportunities.

Schwab shows us that each revolution was triggered by one great innovation. The microchip, for instance, gave rise to the third revolution. Today, cloud is the force behind the fourth one.”

This, Fourth Industrial Revolution is having a profound impact not only across all spheres of our lives, but very specifically in terms of jobs, labour and the world of work beyond 2020. Many of our current jobs and perhaps even, industries may become obsolete or change on a fundamental level due to cognitive computing and progress in Artificial Intelligence. We are at a unique point in human history with “disruptive innovation” at its zenith.

Disruptive innovation was first recognised and the term coined by Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997). Officially, disruptive innovation “creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.” (Wikipedia) In a nutshell, think the internet in the 20th century and Uber and Netflix in the 21st.

Many companies focus on “sustaining innovation”, which improves existing services and products, however this can literally catch them with their “pants down”. In the contemporary world of 2017 agility and flexibility is key to company survival and growth. Developing the work and people skills necessary for this forms a critical component.

According to Lars Boom, Account Executive at LinkedIn based in Dublin, Ireland: “Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.” In his LinkedIn post of 30 August 2016 he makes a comparison between the Top 10 Skills in 2015 and those projected to be the Top 10 in 2020:

Top 10 2015

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Coordinating with others
  3. People management
  4. Critical thinking
  5. Negotiation
  6. Quality control
  7. Service orientation
  8. Judgement and decision making
  9. Active listening
  10. Creativity

Top 10 2020

  1. Complex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgement and decision making
  8. Service Orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility”

If one analyses these skills carefully – the future of work is in our truly “human skills” – fundamental to our brain’s capacity to think creatively – beyond mere intelligence. Consider this: “A survey done by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society shows people expect artificial intelligence machines to be part of a company’s board of directors by 2026.” (Bloom, 2016)

Executives, directors, managers, coordinators, white collar and blue workers need to reflect on their current skills base and consider how to make themselves relevant and marketable into the next few decades.

Growing and developing an organisation and individuals’ Top Skills for 2020 and beyond requires investment in training and coaching programmes that will facilitate assessment of current skills, and championing and engaging in short, medium and long-term plans to develop and optimise these skills in the work force. This is not about ticking off a checklist but about deep, sustainable progress and change. Human behavioural change requires awareness, intensive reflection, action and conscious choices to build new habits, attitudes and a willingness to engage in a life-long learning journey. Companies, government and individuals should move on committing to this now.

The IE Group makes use of the Reuven Bar-On EQ-i assessment tool, which provides data on the following composite scales and sub-scales:


  • Self-regard
  • Self-actualisation
  • Emotional Self-awareness


  • Emotional Expression
  • Assertiveness
  • Independence


  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Empathy
  • Social Responsibility


  • Problem Solving
  • Reality Testing
  • Impulse Control

Stress Management

  • Flexibility
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Optimism

Well-being Indicator

Our specialist psychologists and coaches work with individual coachees to develop specific aspects of Emotional Intelligence. Therefore coaching also focuses on other aspects of the Top 10 Skills for 2020 including:

  • Critical thinking
  • People management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Service Orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive flexibility

To work with our coaches on developing optimal Emotional Intelligence, contact to begin your journey.

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