EQ trumps IQ for workplace success

home_carousel_img51In 1990, psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer brought the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to the forefront, defining it as ‘‘the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.’’ This thought brought a whole new perspective to the area of intelligence, and challenged the then-common measuring tool, IQ (Intelligence Quotient). It opened the door to the fact that not only individuals with high IQs (or “book smarts”) were bound for success, but so, too, are those with high EQs (or “street smarts.”)

EQ in the workplace. When scouting for the best and brightest talent, recruiters still tend to favor college degrees and solid work history. But a diploma is not a guarantee of success. Increasingly, many recruiters consider EQ a more reliable indicator of success in the workplace than IQ. And there is research to back it up; another well-known psychologist in this field, Daniel Goleman, found that “when conducting validity and reliability studies, EQ proved to be twice as important as IQ and technical skills for jobs at all levels.”

Moreover, he says EQ can account for the entire advantage in positions of higher responsibility. “The best news about EQ is that it can be learned,” he says. “Unlike IQ, which stays constant after the late teens, EQ is a set of competencies one can develop, much like a technical skill.” In Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, he identifies five major characteristics of EQ: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill.

There are definite benefits to sharpening your EQ. Not only does it help to manage stress, but it’s vital for enhanced cooperation and teamwork, says Mark Craemer in Emotional Intelligence is Vital to Workplace Success. “Our ability to work together is profoundly impacted by our emotions, and this requires an ability to self-soothe, connect, and integrate in workplace relationships. While skills and experience may get you the job, your EQ will ultimately determine how well you succeed and how far you rise in an organization.”

EQ’s negative side can also show up at work, Craemer says, with behavior that includes: blaming others; victim statements (e.g., “If only he/she would…” ); an inability to hear critical feedback; diverse opinions that aren’t welcomed or valued; passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive communication; and leaders who don’t listen.

Leading and managing with EQ. Today more than ever, employees are aware of who they are, what they want and need, and if they’re a good fit for a workplace. If they feel out of place, they will move on. Leaders can prevent turnover and improve employee satisfaction by doing simple things to prove to individuals they’re not just a number but a vital member of a team.

In 5 Ways to Lead With Emotional Intelligence – and Boost Productivity, Glenn Llopis lists some important ways to get started:

  • Care about people (say thank you and take the time to mentor)
  • Embrace differences to make a big difference (assign unique talents and abilities to certain situations)
  • Help employees experience significance (motivate them as to how the job can benefit their life, and make them feel as if they’re creating an impact)
  • Be accountable like everyone else (admit when you’re wrong and be transparent)
  • Be mindful of their needs (be equally sensitive of your employees reaching their full potential as you are about yourself)

There are many EQ tests, including the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), commonly used by Yale, Notre Dame, and Dartmouth to test prospective students for EQ. But as with many tests of all kinds, there has been some debate about accuracy. Most will agree, however, that EQ can be used for the greater good, and “skills” such as empathy and caring will always win out.

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Nick Roylemsi