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ATD Blog

Artificial Intelligence Versus Emotional Intelligence: Preparing for Industry 4.0

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The digital age has ushered in major transformations for every industry but none more so than manufacturing. Between a major demographic shift as Millennials replace retiring Baby Boomers in the managerial ranks and how technology has created a new business paradigm, the need for updated skill sets, attitudes, and practices is hard to ignore.

As the originators of the top-down approach in the 20th century, it’s been hard for manufacturing experts to shake the standardized and hierarchal ways of the past. Last year, 86 percent of industry leaders thought their organizations were doing enough to prepare their people for Industry 4.0; this year, a 2019 survey echoed only 47 percent of this sentiment.

Why the drop in confidence? The manufacturing industry, for one, seems to be transforming faster than innovation occurs. New advancements in science and technology have led to the automation of many processes that once required human touch. From an outsiders’ perspective, that feels scary, but the fact is that technology creates more jobs than it destroys. The human touch is not being replaced; if anything, it is needed more than ever.

While new machinery and processes are being introduced on the line, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are still needed to work in concert with new technology. These “navigational skills”—adaptability and forward-thinking ability in the face of constant change—are becoming non-negotiable requirements for existing and new industry employees.


You can foster your team’s soft skills development in a few ways:

  • Start with existing leaders. Your current leaders (even Millennials) need to shift their thinking about leadership to reflect fresh and transformative behaviors rather than force outdated ideologies to work on updated systems. Teach them to effectively listen and give feedback and encourage them to build trust-based environments. They should serve as the soft skills standard for their respective teams.
  • Make leadership development available to all. Organizations often focus their time, money, and resources on a smaller subset of leadership. In today’s landscape, it’s more important to develop soft-skill leadership behaviors from moment one. Many Millennials report feelings of under-preparedness for Industry 4.0. Demonstrating a commitment to ongoing professional development will lead to increasing retention rates in your organization.
  • Engage everyone in problem solving. The traditional model of knowledge transfer may serve its purpose for repetitive hard skills, but soft skills require a multimodal approach. We learn the nuances of humility and pragmatic planning from experience. Inviting team members to the table will allow them to understand expectations and how they can adapt if and when things change.

As machines replace humans in doing routine work, jobs are evolving to require a new combination of human skills and capabilities. The constant pace of innovation and technological advancement tends to overshadow the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence, but they are needed now more than ever.

Stay tuned as I continue to explore this concept and share examples of how other industries have unlocked leadership knowledge and content to build leadership at every level of the organization.

About the Author

As a client director at AchieveForum, Jessica Strzepek collaborates with Thought Leaders to provide support to new partners, primarily within the manufacturing space. Jessica works to ensure that these organizations uncover the best solution to develop a culture of Leadership excellence. Her goal is to democratize Leadership for all and help her partners to thrive in building leaders that will guide their company to greatness. Visit our website to learn more about AchieveForum.

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Hey Jessica. In today's customer-centric world, it is required to get updated with the current trends of technologies that can be proved beneficial in customer space. Having AI cover more basic issues allows for human customer service agents to be available to address more complex ones every time! I feel both AI and EI can produce more effective results if they are used in the right way. To get more insights, follow the links below. Links:
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As a scientist, who made two landmark discoveries in Psychology, I fiercely disagree with the premises of the article. All human emotions serve clear-cut purposes. They are not meant to be "controlled." Instead, our feelings are vital for the human experience. All emotions also run on their particular spectrum. All feelings are short-term, long-term, or complexly connected with other emotions. Emotions work in harmony with a non-chaotic mind (especially a critical-thinking one.).
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