Educator Toolkit: Emotional Intelligence

by Kara Dunn

Why This Matters Now

Emotional intelligence or EI – sometimes called emotional quotient or EQ — gets tossed around a lot these days as a skill that young people must embrace and develop in order to become successful in the workplace. The term means that you are aware of and able to express and control your emotions, while also handling relationships with others carefully and empathetically.

Consider AI as a way to appreciate the importance of EI to today’s employers. Artificial intelligence and robots may be taking over everything from stocking shelves in the warehouse to flipping burgers, but they can’t replace those uniquely human social and emotional characteristics, including empathy and compassion.

Ryan Jenkins, a Generation Z expert who writes about the workplace, recently called emotional intelligence the most “in-demand skill of the future.” In a July 22, 2019 online Inc. article, he wrote, “The Industrial Revolution required muscle from its workers. The Information Age traded muscle for mental capacity, which explains the rise of “knowledge workers.” The future will require workers to be emotionally intelligent.”

A Wall Street Journal article from last December alluded to a new Bank of America in-house empathy training program, noting, “New jobs, meaning those not killed off by automation, require substantially more social skills than the manufacturing and factory jobs that once powered the economy. Robots still can’t be friendly, make small talk and calm disgruntled customers, which offers opportunity for people.”

Boosting your students’ EQ (not just their IQ) will help prepare them for the real world. This fun video defining empathy is a great place to start the discussion! Then, using the various resources below, help them discover and improve their strength as compassionate leaders.


Great Leaders Recognize and Value the Power of Emotions
In addition to introducing the concept of emotional intelligence, this article effectively bridges the gap between the workplace and the high school classroom with the help of Ed Yu, an executive at PwC. Yu, a longtime partner at the professional services firm, explores all the reasons that he believes empathy is essential to effective leadership and workplace success. Students will also learn valuable tools, like RULER, to help build their EQ abilities.

Lesson Plan
Emotional Intelligence: How to Lead from Within
In this lesson, students explore how to lead from within by learning to manage both their egos and emotions. They will begin by brainstorming a list of famous people and CEOs who are known to be hard to work with. Then, they will listen to a Knowledge@ Wharton podcast. After that, they will write their own responses to a list of quotes that were mentioned in the podcast and the class will discuss their responses and what it means to lead from within. Finally, to get students in touch with their own egos and emotions, they will each make a list of their personal strengths and weaknesses and choose one from each category to share with the class.

Hands-on Learning
As with any great lesson, context is everything. Help your students discover why empathy and compassion are superpowers for the 21st century economy, and how technology is changing that economy, by clearly defining the distinction between AI and EI through a group activity.

Divide the class into two teams: the Robots (representing AI) and the RULERS (representing EI). If you haven’t yet read the KWHS article Great Leaders Recognize and Value the Power of Emotions, do so first so that students are familiar with the ‘RULER’ pneumonic. You may also want to check out our Educator Toolkit on artificial intelligence to get students thinking about the world of machine learning.

As moderator, the teacher presents the teams with the following scenarios and gives them 5 minutes to discuss how their AI or EI skills will help inform or improve the outcomes or navigate the decisions related to each scenario. Each team must then designate a leader to express their ideas. The teacher chooses the winning team following their presentations. Encourage the teams to think outside the box and build their stories with as much imagination and detail as possible. The key is to keep this activity moving quickly. The scenarios are simple, and speak to the need for both tech and touch in today’s economy.

Situation #1: A food manufacturing company has not kept up with innovation and is being forced to lay off several hundred employees due to its eroding market share. Meanwhile, an angel investor has stepped forward to provide funding for technological improvements to keep production robust. Address the potential AI and EI skills needed to successfully navigate this company crisis and move back to profitability.

Situation #2: As the planet continues to warm, the impact of climate change is worsening. One company that is a leader in helping better manage the impacts of climate change hosts a summit to bring together experts who will discuss tools for protecting the planet and addressing global warming. A crowd of passionate young activists gathers outside the conference hall to voice their concerns about global warming and express their anger and frustration over dwindling investment in renewable energies and complacency toward global impacts, like melting ice caps and destructive weather events. What AI and EI expertise might enter into building a successful summit and managing the ensuing situation?

Situation #3: A work team must come up with solutions to deal with data breaches that threaten to compromise private client information. The team has many different personalities and often has trouble communicating and reaching productive outcomes.

Video Glossary
Provide an extra layer of learning for your students with our video glossary. Here, Wharton professors define terms: Collaboration, Management and Teams.

KWHS Quote of the Month
“IQ is expected — it gets you in the door. EQ gets you up [the ladder]. The earlier you know this, the better.” – Alpesh Chokshi, president, global payment options, American Express

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