Is EI or IQ more important than the other when it comes to rising up the management ladder?

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Emotional intelligence (EI) seems to still be a buzzword since it first made its mark in Daniel Goleman’s bestselling book in the 90s which stated that that non-cognitive skills can matter as much as IQ. But is this true and how can it translate to the workplace? How does having a high EI level make you a better manager for a company and so a more worthwhile hire?

For a long time it was a person’s IQ which was deemed the ultimate barometer for success in work, and life in general. However, more and more studies show a link between higher EI levels and successful professionals. Those with a high EI level are high achievers who are also great team players and highly proactive. Some corporations and large businesses use EI tests to determine a candidate’s suitability for a role as part of the recruitment process. Some have coaching seminars on emotional and social skills!

CEO turnover on the rise in Canada because of failure in leadership ability NOT technical ability!

I came across an article on 13th October in the Financial Post by Rebecca Walberg which claimed that one of the reasons why CEO turnover is on the rise amongst Canadian CEOs and their American counterparts is because “it always comes down to a failure of leadership rather than technical ability.” (Or at least so argues Roxana Bahar Hewertson, President and Chief Executive of Highland Consulting Group Inc. and author of a new book on the importance of interpersonal skills in leadership). Roxana continues, “We know that most CEOs are not involuntarily removed because they don’t have the technical skills, because they do. You don’t get to that level without the technical competence. It tends to be because of a lack of emotional intelligence.”

Ouch! So it seems Canada’s CEOs don’t appear to either inherently have, (or perhaps simply lack the support and training that can help extract and so develop their EI). But both EQ and IQ testing is met by two opinion camps: ‘Camp EI’ think it is a skill which helps predict work success and teamwork ability. But just how accurate a predictor is it? Isn’t it just too subjective a way to work?

On the other hand, ‘Camp IQ’ tends to think in a more black-and-white, objective way. Whilst an IQ test won’t give any indication into someone’s personality or effectiveness as a manager, by the same token it can’t test a person’s non-academic intellectual abilities and potential.

The value of emotional intelligence

So whilst both camps have great USPs, my main point is that staff nowadays are being judged differently and not just by how ‘intelligent’ they are in terms of their IQ and academic qualifications or by their training and expertise (great as they are), but also by how well they handle themselves and each other: in other words, by their emotional responses or emotional intelligence.

At Creativedge we train people to develop their EI, as we’ve always recognised its importance.

Workplace success isn’t always about intellect and having the technical skills. It’s the ‘people skills - knowing how to trust, being able to communicate and get along with people – which are also key. Some of the most driven and well-known business leaders didn’t go to university or business school either. Take the Tumblr founder David Karp, who left high school at the age of 15 and now his New York start up is about to sell for $1.1 billion IN CASH to Yahoo. And the French businessman Francois Pinault is the third-richest man in France with a net worth of $15 billion. He left high school to work at his father's lumber mill, because school pals mocked his poor background. Well, look at him now! Today, he’s the majority shareholder of fashion conglomerate PPR, which owns the famous fashion labels like Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.

And let’s not forget our home-gown talent, Richard Branson; he was a school drop-out too. What’s the thing these three guys have in common? Emotional Intelligence.

They are all motivated by a strong inner drive, not simply by money or titles.  Part of the secret of their success has been the fact that they can engage easily with people and can build tremendous rapport and trust with those on whom they depend. They possess the following in abundance:

1) Empathy

 2) People Skills

 3) Motivation

These are three of the Five Pillars of Motivation broadened by Goleman from Professors Mayer and Salovey’s original concept about Emotional Intelligence. The other two skills for EI are Emotional Self-awareness (knowing what you are feeling at any given time) and Self-regulation (the ability to control or manage your emotions and anticipate the outcomes before acting recklessly).

For me personally, the real go-getting managers I’ve known have all had amazing interpersonal skills, confidence, self-belief and an incredible way of appreciating and listening to other people’s feelings.

So in summary, whilst I do believe that an IQ will get you in the door of a company, I also think that EI will help you move up the ladder when you’ve got past the door.

But what’s your take on EI and does you company deploy it in any way? If so, I’m sure we’d all enjoy hearing about it.

About mark.rose


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