When I was a youngster in the middle of last century, which makes me sound positively ancient, we all went through IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests in primary school. This was a standard measure of your potential. From there we were drafted into different learning pens like cattle or sheep. I don’t remember what my IQ was. No, honestly, I don’t. All the therapy under the sun won’t bring it back so don’t email me with your suggestions. I think it was two or three hundred or something – does that sound right?
… approximately 95 percent of the population scores an IQ between 70 and 130, which is within two standard deviations of the mean.[i]
IQ tests measure your cognitive abilities, which are the mental skills required to undertake tasks, to solve problems and to understand concepts.
EI was a later and very important discovery. In fact it gave hope to all of us battlers who were terribly worried about how our rocket scientist friends were faring.
Emotional intelligence (EI) can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
The current measure of EI is based on a series of emotion-based problem-solving items.
… the test is modeled on ability-based IQ tests. By testing a person’s abilities on each of the four branches of emotional intelligence, it generates scores for each of the branches as well as a total score.[ii]
In his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman puts the case for the value of soft skills (EI) in the work place at all levels, but most particularly at a leadership level. Far from diminishing the value of IQ in measuring the success of a person’s career, Goleman demonstrates through significant bodies of research, the necessity for EI (accompanied by IQ) to assure sustainable success. Goleman quotes a study undertaken by the University of California at Berkley in the 1950’s where Ph.D students were measured for IQ and various personality traits. A follow up study, some forty years later, with the same students, then in their 70’s, indicated that:
“Emotional Intelligence abilities were about four times more important than IQ in determining professional success and prestige even for these scientists.” (Goleman, Pg 45)
Goleman goes on to quote a former Exxon engineer and a Nobel Prize winner:
“ “What made the difference there wasn’t your grade point average – everyone there had done well in school. The difference was in personal qualities like perseverance, finding a mentor, being willing to put in more hours and try harder”. Or as Ernest O. Lawrence, the Nobel Laureate who founded the labs at Berkeley that bear his name, put it, “In scientific work, excellence is not about technical competence, but character.” (Goleman, Pg 45)
What does all this mean?
I always subscribed to a pretty standard format for the evolution of leadership. In the school yard, leadership was the domain of the physically intimidating, or perhaps those with rat-like street-smarts, a crafty tongue and a risqué wit. And later, the balance of power accompanied by the satisfaction of a passive but sweet victory, shifted to the higher IQ four eyed, freckled, weedy chaps chosen last in the playtime sports. It seems perhaps I was wrong.
There are a couple of really important things to keep in mind here. One pertains to the recruitment process. Are you giving equal credence to EI? Are you even thinking about how you gauge and measure EI through the recruitment process? And the second is, that if you have an IQ of 130, but you just don’t get the guy or gal sitting next to you, or you didn’t weep during the movie ‘My Girl’, don’t feel despondent – there are aspects of EI that can be developed with awareness and commitment.
Great leaders have a dash of IQ and a splash of EI.
What are some of the key characteristics of Emotional Intelligence?
Self-awareness: knowing what we’re feeling in the moment, and using those preferences to guide our decision making; having a realistic assessment of our own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self confidence.
Self-regulation: handling our emotions so that they facilitate rather than interfere with the task at hand; being conscientious and delaying gratification to pursue goals; recovering well from emotional distress.
Motivation: using our deepest preferences to move and guide us towards our goals, to help us take initiative and strive to improve, and to persevere in the face of setbacks and frustrations.
Empathy: sensing what people are feeling, being able to take their perspective, and cultivating rapport and attunement with a broad diversity of people.
Social skills: handling emotions in relationships well and accurately reading social situations and networks; interacting smoothly; using these skills to persuade and lead, negotiate and settle disputes, for corporation and teamwork.” (Goleman Pg 318)
Goleman, D 1999, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury Publishing London