Why the best business leaders focus on EQ, not IQ

How many times have you had an interaction with someone who is really smart (in terms of IQ) but has no clue as to how you are feeling, what you are thinking or how to handle a challenging situation?

The person may have gone to all the best schools and even have a fancy degree and title but they lack emotional intelligence (EQ). When this happens in the workplace it's really frustrating and causes many people to want to quit their jobs. When it happens at home relationships can become strained and often fall apart.

Dan Goleman brought the concept of EQ to the main stage with his book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’, which changed the way we think about what makes people and leaders successful. Having talent, skills and knowledge is not enough - you need to be able to effectively deal with all types of people. Building your EQ is available to all of us regardless of your age, education, financial status or background but only some of us invest the time and energy to leverage this component.

IQ and EQ are very different. Many people may have a high IQ with impressive analytical and technical skills. The question we now need to ask is what’s our EQ and how am I showing up in the workplace as a leader. Companies are now focusing on EQ rather than just IQ. They would prefer to have someone with a good attitude and teach her additional skills. Recently I spoke with a partner in a private equity firm and asked him what makes the companies he is looking at successful? His answer - the people and how effectively they can manage change and conflict. The VC specialist brought home the point that being the smartest person in the room no longer makes companies and people successful, you need more and that special ingredient is EQ.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and why do we care?

Emotional intelligence is the “ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively,” explains Per Dan Goleman. This includes not only the easy relationships but the challenging ones too. The term empathy is connected and takes into consideration understanding not just someone’s feelings but a different perspective they may have as well as their drives and needs.

There are four main areas to better understand and explore EQ:

1. Self-Awareness: The ability to realistically understand your strengths and weaknesses and recognize their impact. Think of the term “know thyself.”

Q: How are you using your top three strengths on a daily basis and are you aware of your strengths that may go south and derail you? 

2. Self-Management: The ability to control your disruptive emotions and impulses.

Q: How well do your co-workers think you match an emotion to a situation to keep a situation on track instead of derail it?

3. Social awareness: The ability to accurately understand other people’s emotions and perspectives as well as their needs. This also includes accurately assessing what happens in a meeting or the dynamics of a team or organization.

Q: How accurately do you understand your team and work dynamics? Would others agree with your perceptions? 

4. Relationship Management: The ability to cultivate relationships plus manage and resolve the difficult ones with grace. 

Q: How well do you manage the difficult conversations and what impact do they have on your relationships?

A few gentle signs that you may need to work on your EQ:

  • You get impatient and frustrated when others don’t understand something
  • You don’t care if people like you
  • You find others are to blame for most of the issues on your team

Emotional intelligence is an essential component of leadership to develop as you move forward in your career whether you are an entrepreneur, student, manager or musician because people want to feel heard and know that you care. And like becoming a master in anything, this too is a process and takes time and awareness.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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