Emotional skills a key cog for innovations

Saturday October 12 2019

We got to network and co-create in crafting promising solutions that will breathe life to businesses. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GOUP


Technology is often a byword for novelty.

Novel ideas are the catalyst for successful entrepreneurial endeavours. Many well-intentioned novelties are however strangled in their cradle, not because they lack legs on which to stand, but because their champions often lack essential skills to support them.

Drivers of innovative ideas all too often have to overcome objections regarding the viability of their idea. They have to convince financiers on why funds need to be spent to nurture the ideas to fruition.

They have to demonstrate that forecasted failures are small compared to promised benefits. To increase their chances of success, innovations demand that individuals collaborate widely.

The days of lone rangers and lone wolves are behind us: we got to network and co-create in crafting promising solutions that will breathe life to businesses.



These kinds of engagements call for two skill sets: intellectual and emotional skills. Our schools harness our intellectual abilities. They equip us with an array of technical skills.

They test us to demonstrate mastery of what we have learnt. Emotional skills, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish. They include self-awareness and self-regulation in the actions that we take.

They ignite self-drive and reinforce persistence in the face of challenges. Also called emotional intelligence, these competencies present themselves as self-confidence, personal initiative and ability to persuade others.

It is the fertile ground upon which social skills blossom. These skills, sadly, are either not taught at school or are just glossed over.


For organisations to thrive undergirded by the power of innovation, we need a paradigm shift in the education system and corporate training.

This shift won’t be an easy task. Most children are taught that excellence in intellectual skills is a sure ticket to success. Studies-generated evidence reveals that’s a half-truth.

A world disrupted by technology needs more than intellectual excellence. Qualities such as resilience, initiative, optimism, and adaptability must be taught with the same zeal as technical skills.

Children’s emotional skills are on a downward trend. They are spending a remarkable amount of time online, living in an artificial world. They are growing lonelier, depressed, unruly, prone to worry, impulsive and aggressive.

Their emotional aptitude is dented but their intellectual acumen is improving. A generation suffering from an imbalance between emotional skills and intellectual ability doesn’t mesh well for a competitive world.


Companies replete with emotionally-underdeveloped staff are less productive. They are prone to disagreements and acrimony, a behaviour that corrodes motivation and builds hostility.

The result is an organisation that perpetually performs well below its capacity. Whereas intellectual ability is the stem for success, emotional skill is the taproot on which the stem of success stands.

Organisations must invest in regular staff training to impart and solidify emotional acumen. As a long-term strategy, schools must adapt their training in tandem with the increasingly turbulent, tech-disrupted world.

Wambugu is an informatician. Email:[email protected] @samwambugu2