I knew there had to be a better way - a path by which we could put aside our differences, find common ground, and work for the greater good. This was the early 1990s, before Daniel Goleman published his game-changing 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is something no one was talking about back then; the concept was absolutely groundbreaking. When I read Goleman's book, it was like a bomb hitting me. This was it! This was the tool I'd been looking for! How much more successful would companies be with emotionally intelligent leaders at the helm? What if, instead of people feeling compelled to constantly brandish their egos, they were aware of how their emotions affected them? What if people took time for self-examination and could identify where their emotions were helping them and where they were harming them? What if an entire organization took this approach? It was an idea ahead of its time. Still, the seed was planted, and it was watered and nurtured as I evolved through the 1990s.
We've come a long way. Not just technologically (remember a time before email?), but ideologically as well. Twenty-five years ago, few people were talking about leadership skills or a greater mission. Leadership development was considered a punishment. I vividly remember conversations from that era in which colleagues talked about how "everything you needed to know you could get from experience." Studying management techniques, receiving coaching this was what you did if you were failing in your role!
What mattered back then was the bottom line. In some ways, it was an "anything goes" era. We may look back from 2019 in bewilderment that we behaved that way. We've since witnessed such revolutions as the democratization of the internet and the #MeToo era. The game has changed many times since my career began. And now we are on the verge of another great upheaval: the fourth industrial revolution.
This revolution is characterized by the widespread adoption of new technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence. The three previous industrial revolutions also centered on advances in technology. The first industrial revolution saw societies move from farms to cities as the iron and textile industries expanded. The second encompassed the era of the steel and oil barons, as electric power was harnessed for mass production. The third, also known as the digital revolution, brought humanity the internet and the PC.
And now we stand on the brink of the fourth. Yet the shift we are experiencing runs deeper than the changes society experienced in the previous three revolutions. Those technological upheavals primarily affected how people worked; the end result of each was that labor became more streamlined and efficient. Yet the fourth industrial revolution-a term coined by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum-is larger in scope. It is about more than labor. Technology is a means to an end, and that end is a deeper connection with one another, the internet, and the earth.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will figure prominently in the new work landscape. Machines will become smarter, and humans will interact with them more frequently. The way we think is likely to change, too, as our intelligence merges with the technology we're creating. Al is already changing the way we live and work. We experience it when we click on a website, interact with chatbots, or use it to help doctors diagnose a disease. Within the next few years, it will transform the world. Al has been called the "new electricity." Its impact will be felt by every person, across every industry, in every corner of the world.
What this may mean for your workplace is that employees who perform routine functions will be replaced by automation, while jobs requiring soft skills like empathy and leadership will become more prominent. Technological systems that haven't yet been invented could totally disrupt your processes within two or three years. Though you can educate yourself on which new technologies are coming down the pipeline, there's no way to accurately predict how they will affect you and your organization.