Atlas Corps and the University of Zurich Center for Leadership in the Future of Work (CLFW) cooperate to identify and nurture human-centered, 21st century leaders from across the globe.

Leaders and employees vastly differ in their assessment of organizational culture: 72% of executives surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2021 believed their overall organizational culture had improved since the beginning of the pandemic, but 86% of employees disagreed. This perception gap illustrates the need for leaders to embrace human aspects more fully in the future of work. For example, research has long proven that emotions matter in organizations, for everything leaders care about, including performance and productivity. Emotional intelligence – or the ability to recognize, reason with and regulate emotions in oneself and others – is therefore an essential leadership skill, yet it is rarely widely assessed, nor cultivated or consciously practiced in organizations.

Working since 2006 to address the fact that talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not, Atlas Corps reaches tens of thousands of young leaders from over 115 countries each year, vets thousands of applications, and selects the most qualified of them for its 12-to-18-month U.S.-based fellowship to strengthen their skills in organizations. Fellows then become part of a global community of social change leaders. The partnership with CLFW will enable Atlas Corps to better identify talented young leaders from across the globe who bring the potential to lead organizations with emotional intelligence.

To begin, Atlas Corps is working together with CLFW researchers to sharpen its vetting process. The two teams will first revise questions, include new questions based on expert input and refine the scoring system. As a basis for a more in-depth research project, the research team will then analyze interviews with artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to gauge communication skills and emotional scores. Atlas Corps will use results to inform final leader selection over time. The two teams will also work on integrating an emotional intelligence ability test into the fellowship application process, further increasing the quality and validity of data points and allowing for triangulation in addition to the written responses, video interviews, and the text of the reference checks.

In a second phase, the two teams will tackle an ambitious research agenda to assess the longer-term impact of skills such as conflict management and emotional intelligence on these young leaders’ career. This promising piece of joint research is expected to advance our understanding of the effectiveness of emotional intelligence and conflict management skills for young leaders from across the globe.

Since July 2022, almost 200 of our new semi-finalists have been active participants in this research effort already. The results are currently not used to determine individual selection decisions as the research is ongoing. We will engage with all participants and inform them about the progress of our research efforts and results.

Prof. Dr. Jochen Menges, Director of the Center for Leadership in the Future of Work at the University of Zurich, and Bidjan Nashat, CEO of Atlas Corps

About the University of Zurich Center for Leadership in the Future of Work

The UZH CLFW was established in 2020 as a go-to place to help leaders meet the people challenges
inherent in the Future of Work. CLFW works in three mutually-reinforcing areas:

  • DISCOVER: We drive the global research agenda on a human-centered future of work, exploring how people can be lifted to feel and do their best at work, today and tomorrow.
  • INSPIRE: We offer innovative learning journeys, equipping current and future people leaders with
    advanced knowledge and skills on the human aspects of the future of work.
  • SHAPE: We incubate real world solutions. Together with our partners, we work to ignite a leading
    People Innovation Ecosystem to build a more human future of work.