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Editorial Team
25 Oct 2018



IQ Cracked the SATs, EQ is the Pass to the Coveted C-Suite

Segregating IQ and EQ, understanding how leadership can use Emotional Quotient as their personalized magic wand 

There is this one particular episode from Young Sheldon (A spin-off of the Big Bang Theory, dealing with Sheldon Cooper’s ‘Wonder Years’). Sheldon comes across a ‘nemesis’, another prodigy. Now, his parents connect with hers and call them over a lunch. The parents of this girl prodigy, do not have to fret over certain quirks, as Sheldon’s parents do. Oddly enough Sheldon never realizes his emotion of jealousy towards the girl and the episode ends with Sheldon throwing chess board when he losses the game. Now, in retrospect, both the kids have high IQ. So, what makes this girl smarter and more well-rounded person than Sheldon? Emotional Quotient or EQ is the magic word you are looking for here. 

When did being intelligent did not count as being Smart anymore? 

Benet came up with IQ measurement and a professor from Stanford University developed the IQ calculation as we know today. The aim was to understand students and their learning patterns, as with the turn of the century everyone was getting educated. Going by the calculations a person with a score of 100 is average. Anything at 125 or above is 5% of the population on the intelligent side. 

But, then Howard Gardner came up with his theory of multiple intelligences. Now, out of his 9 types of intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence (people skills) grabbed some eyeballs. And Goleman penned his 1995 best seller ‘Emotional Intelligence’. So, EQ (Emotional Quotient) became the IT word. Smart now was someone with Emotional Quotient with a decent spoonful of Intelligent Quotient added to it. 

Leadership that knows what people want 

Wait, is EQ just a trend then? And, what about IQ? Intelligence is a parameter of success and everything from the grades, SATs and even college days point towards this fact. You may laugh at the televised representation of a high on IQ and low on EQ people. But, give it a serious thought, where do you see such people in your organization? 

So, let us go on a vacation in Italy. Amadori is a known name in Italian Agro-Food industry with a clientele that has Mc Donald’s among its listings. Around 2007, this five-decade-old company decided that it was time that leadership considered some serious people management time in their strategy. The HR team set the ball rolling by weaving emotional intelligence in the entire leadership fabric. It started with self-awareness, self-management, and self-direction. The goal was to go for a learning-focused organization where managers are mentors. The result - high EQ leads you to high performance by individuals and the last time we checked that’s the way to enhanced organizational performance. 

Empathy is a big part of Emotional Quotient. And no, free hugs are not a part of it. Take a leaf from Ursula Burns, CEO Xerox (Trivia: she took the charge from Anne Mulcahy in the first woman-to-woman leadership transition for a Fortune 500). She is respectful (empathy) and assertive with a self-actualized sense of mission that keeps her employees getting all the inspiration they want.  

Self-awareness is a real Emotional Intelligence (EI) booster. Indra Nooyi brought her individual personality at the CEO Cabin in Pepsi Co during her days there. She carried it along outside the cabin as she walked barefoot in office and sang in the hallway. The lady knew that she was a capitalist and brought her “performance with purpose” along with her hallway singing to remodel the job to a calling for the employees. She sent personalized “thank you” letters to the parents of 29 management personnel. It thanked them for the wonderful kids they raised. The letter reached their homes, envelop opened, and you got a set of smile from the parents. The second set of smiles with a sense of ownership and brand loyalty was from the managers. 

Emotional Intelligence works great for building up morals. And that is what Kent Thiry of DaVita fame had in his mind while he took the reins of a rather down in dumps (morale-wise) and nearly out of business kidney dialysis company. So, he started by building a culture-driven company fueled by Emotional Quotient. With the passion and motivation on the rise, the company clocked a 44% earnings per share growth every year for a decade. So, EQ is not just all about empathy and free hugs, after all. 

Do not forget the IQ though 

But science says IQ is important. Bill Gates put his elitist foot forward while selecting people for Microsoft. He is right when you think that these people need to design the most intuitive software and a Sheldon Cooper will be the perfect fit (Picture the High IQs here). Now, years after creating software in a closed room, it is time to move up the ladder. As a manager, you know that the best software developer gets to bite the gold. But, then it’s not just designing anymore. There is delegation, motivation, juggling carrots and sticks. In short, you communicate with people. Are you seeing Emotional Quotient calling ‘shotgun’ for the driver’s seat now?  

But leadership and EQ are going strong 

Leadership needs high EQ. Hire people who make you feel that they are listening to you intently as you interview them for the job (make not of this even when interviewing interns). It is one of the first markers of an emotionally sound person. Professionals all over are putting their money on Emotional Intelligence. If you believe Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of your success in finances is from People skill (read EQ) and 15% of the credit goes to your technical skills (too bad they never taught us this at school).  

IQ is ‘nature and nurture’, but EQ is all ‘nurture’ 

The good news is that while IQ is somewhat a gene game, EQ can be developed. Start by going for an organizational change. Amadori did it, as you saw before. FedEx too hopped on to the EQ train in ‘leading by example’ philosophy for the top management. The results were better performance and people management.  

Start it right by hand picking management and people roles to high EQ people. Now, you will always have that shy genius and no points for guessing that most of the great ideas come from that silent cubicle. Design a career path for the high IQ, keep them motivated and they remain your best silent assets. As years pass engage them, design Emotional Intelligence programs that address their learning patterns. Prepare them for taking up the next big step in a management role. Choose a manager who is high on EQ and IQ aka smart, for them. 

Finding the right balance in the team is the key. Design a learning organization and not just an assembly line model. So, how important is Emotional Quotient to you? Do you define ‘smart’ as a sum of EQ and IQ? How much weight will you give to EQ if the job is core technical, like the one from Microsoft reference? Do you nurture future leaders on a daily dose of Emotional Intelligence enhancement? What does learning organization mean to you? We shall love to hear your inputs on your take on Emotional Quotient aka EQ. 

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