Dynamic Happenings

Is EQ More Important than IQ at Workplace?

February 11, 2014 General

John, a software engineer, was considered as one of the most employable
professionals at his workplace. Many of his co-workers used to call him the next
big thing. Owing to his consistent performance, he was promoted to a managerial
position very recently. Just a week after the promotion, he got into a minor
argument with one of the subordinates over an error in the final report.
But no one expected what happened next. He lost his cool (when he could have
controlled it) and sent an emotionally charged and rather offensive email, copying the entire team, including the senior managers. He did not apologize for his actions and received a demotion.

What exactly happened here? Why on earth would a smart professional like John choose to behave irrationally, putting his reputation and career at stake?

The answer lies in EQ. When emotions take over a person’s mind, bypassing the neural restraining mechanisms, he no more sees the situation As-It-Is but as he perceives it to be. To put it in psychological terms, John became a victim of emotional hijacking.

A person with a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) would not have sent an offensive email like John did. What attributes does an emotionally intelligent person possess that would cause them to react to a similar situation in a more positive manner?  See below:

• He is good at admitting his own mistakes and forgiving other’s mistakes
• He is self-aware of his emotions and hence can control it better
• He is empathetic towards others and is able to see things from other’s perspectives
• He stays rather calm in disruptive situations

A leader has an ability, inherent or learned, to manage disputes and diversity, and put them to best use for optimization of resources and maximizing productivity. John aced his own domain, but it was his emotional factor that stopped him from being a successful leader. It’s the EQ that separate leaders from the followers.

IQ versus EQ

This story brings us to the much-debated comparison between EQ and IQ. Let’s take a quick look at the key differences between the two:

1. The ability to learn, comprehend and apply information. In short, the cognitive skills The ability to identify, express and manage emotions, in self as well as others. In short, the emotional skills
2. Logical and analytical reasoning.
Spatial and mathematical skills
Language comprehension skills
Sense of empathy
Interpersonal skills

Even today, at many workplaces, IQ is prioritized over EQ as a measuring tool for employability. It is primarily because of two reasons:

• IQ is relatively much older (and hence well established) than EQ both in terms of origin and acceptance
• EQ is not-so-easy to measure and can be tampered with, as it deals with self-perception (not numbers)

IQ – What it Doesn’t Tell?
Smart ≠ Successful

Holding a Ph.D. can surely be a measure of subject expertise but it’s no guarantee that the holder knows well to perform in pressure, go along with difficult colleagues, manage conflict or boost the morale of the subordinates.

There’s no arguing that IQ is a tried-and-tested measure of smartness. But the organizational success depends on how well a smart professional relates to his co-workers even if they are not as smart as he/she is. As emotional creatures, recognition and interpersonal relationships matter to us. The ability to Connect-to-People is something that IQ fails to measure.

Many psychological findings have revealed that people with high EQ-Average IQ stands in higher chance of achieving corporate success than people with high IQ-Average EQ.

EQ - Why it Matters?
Not Me But We

Though Emotional Intelligence as a concept has been around for three decades, it was Daniel Goleman who actually made it widely-known in the corporate world in the 90s. In his own words, ‘Empathy is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others.’ This definition pretty much answers why EQ matters at workplace.

More than 80 percent of our workplace activity involves socio-emotional skills such as empathy, self-awareness and communication. In this age of globalization, success highly depends on the networking skills a person has. The key questions of ascertaining the employability of a person is how he interacts with others and how he interprets others’ ideas. These are the qualities that are reflected in the Emotional Quotient.

As per a recent survey, a major fraction of the workforce is handed pink slips for attitude (derived from EQ), not under-performance (derived from IQ). According to a report issued by the Center for Creative Leadership, “75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies.”

A Sensible Conclusion

We are not meant to discredit IQ as a foundation for recruiting talent. Many schools of thought have prioritized IQ over EQ and many have done it the other way round but both miss the point. The need of the hour is to bring together the two ‘Qs’. Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are two independent facets of mind. We need to recognize the significance of both the sides.

Achieving corporate success and personal fulfillment depends on how well you synchronize the cognitive skills with your socio-emotional content to make the best of your life!

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