EQ or IQ- Which One Matters More?
Much like the soft skills debate, there is a seemingly never-ending debate about whether cognitive intelligence (IQ) or emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) matters more for your success. For a long time, IQ or book smarts has served as a key predictor for an individual’s success in life and to determine who is afforded opportunities and who is likely to be more effective on the job. Overtime, this bias towards cognitive intelligence has resulted in a perception that intelligence (IQ) matters more than its emotional intelligence counterpart. And this misguided approach has led many people to focus more on developing their intelligence (IQ) and to neglect or minimize the value of emotional intelligence (EQ)in their efforts to improve personally and professionally. But not so anymore.
An overwhelming amount of research suggests that “more real-world problems get solved with people skills than raw intelligence. That means you can get more bang for your self-improvement buck by focusing on EQ”. Google, also adds that “leaders with high emotional intelligence make better decisions”. “Emotional intelligence gives you the ability to read the environment around you, to grasp what other people want and need, what their strengths and weakness are; to remain unruffled by stress and to be the kind of person others want to be around” (Stein& Book 2011).
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to the authors of Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, intelligence, or IQ “is the measure of an individual’s intellectual, analytical, logical and rational abilities. It gauges how readily you learn new things, focus on task and retain information, engage in a reasoning process and solve problems”. Simply put, your intelligence speaks to your capacity to carry out a specific activity, perform a technical skill and certain tasks. On the other hand, emotional intelligence can be defined as “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional informational in an effective and meaningful way”.
Therefore, your ability to demonstrate emotional intelligence will determine your ability to influence others, communicate effectively, resolve conflict, and build and maintain healthy, positive, and productive relationships personally and professionally. In other words, your emotional intelligence or street smarts are key to how you live and operate in the world around you. People operating with high IQ and low EQ are like wrecking balls that can potentially damage or destroy everything and everyone in their path. By not being able to identify and manage their own emotions and to recognize and respond to the emotions of others, they create conflict and toxic environments which make it difficult for people to live and work with them.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important at Work?
Over the last few years of the pandemic, we have seen a huge amount of change and disruptions in every area of our personal and professional lives. Now more than ever, many employees find themselves struggling to navigate the new emotional landscape at work and to cope with unprecedented levels of stress, burnout, uncertainty, and grief driven by the pandemic. The pressing need to constantly pivot and change the way we do business, work, or serve clients, have taken a physical and psychological toll on employees mental and emotional well-being. Today, many employees report feeling increasing levels of anxiety, unhappiness, social isolation, and fatigue.
To respond effectively to all these challenges in the environment, emotional intelligence matters individually and organizationally. For leaders in organizations, leading with emotional intelligence means communicating clearly and frequently to reduce uncertainty, having a pulse on what employees are feeling in response to change, determining what is motivating them or not and implementing strategies to support the emotional and mental well-being of their employees. Managing with emotional intelligence will require supervisors to be flexible with how they manage the performance of their direct reports who might be struggling with meeting deliverables and showing empathy to employees who are experiencing tough times.
On an individual level, having emotional intelligence will help an employee to build and maintain positive and healthy personal relationships with their co-workers, show care and empathy for each other, collaborate, work effectively in teams, solve problems effectively, cope with stress and navigate change. Employees with strong emotional intelligence, are more self-aware and better able to manage themselves and their emotions and set boundaries to protect their overall well-being.
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Skills?
To build your emotional intelligence skills, it is important to understand the different dimensions of EQ. According to the Bar-On Model of emotional intelligence and social intelligence, EQ can be broken down into five dimensions and 15 characteristics summarized below:
- Self-Perception: This refers to your ability to understand your emotions (emotional self-awareness), pursue self-improvement (self-actualization) and the extent to which you have confidence and respect yourself (self-regard).
- Self-Expression: This speaks to your ability to be self-directed (independence), communicate your feelings and beliefs in a non-offensive way (assertiveness) and constructively express yourself (emotional expression).
- Interpersonal: This focuses on your ability to form and maintain mutually satisfying relationships (interpersonal relationships), appreciate how others feel(empathy) and help others around you (social consciousness).
- Decision Making: This includes your ability to be objective (reality testing), find solutions when emotions are involved (problem solving) and to delay or resist an impulse to act.
- Stress Management: This deals with your ability to cope with stressful situations (stress management), overcome adversity, maintain a positive outlook on life(optimism) and to be adaptable with your thoughts and behaviors (flexibility).
One additional indicator of this emotional social intelligence model is – happiness. This measures the degree to which you feel content with your life, your ability to enjoy yourself and others and experience joy in a range of activities. Altogether, these elements represent what it means to be emotional intelligent and the skills you will need to demonstrate it. It is important to note that your performance in any one or combination of these dimensions can be stronger or higher than the others. The key here is to identify areas where you have gaps and work towards strengthening them.
So, how do you rate your emotional intelligence skills?
Which area (s) might you need to improve?
Where do you intend to start?
The good news is- emotional intelligence is a skill that you can develop and strengthen overtime. Your journey toward becoming emotional intelligent will need to start with an honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, a recognition of your limitations and intentional efforts on your part to address them. Enlist the support of trusted friends, coworkers, and family members to provide you with feedback that will help you to identify the blind spots that might be affecting how you show up and impact others. When all is said and done, your emotional intelligence will determine the quality of your relationships at work and in your personal life, ability to bounce back and overcome adversity, manage stress, make decisions, and find meaning and satisfaction in your life.
So, when it comes to intelligence – Your EQ, not Your IQ Matters More! Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!