+61 417 642 341 ush@collaboratehr.com.au

How Do EQ and IQ Differ – and Which is More Valuable in the Workplace?

Good first impression

The level of EQ (emotional quotient – or emotional intelligence) as opposed to IQ (Intelligence quotient) is not an either/or question for the workplace. It may seem obvious, but we need as much as possible of both!

The differences have not always been universally understood and their relative importance has not been universally agreed upon. However, in recent years, there has been more HR focus on the importance of emotional intelligence. This is possibly because the pendulum had swung too far in the other direction – towards IQ – and away from the perceived importance of emotional intelligence. Perhaps we are seeing the imbalance being redressed.

So what are the main differences between EQ and IQ – and how do their different qualities serve the workplace?

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

IQ is the most common measurement of a persons intelligence level, usually obtained from a standardised test first developed by German psychologist, William Stern, in the early 1900s. Essentially it assesses the cognitive capacity or logical reasoning level of a person and the score is a way of comparing ones intelligence level with that of others.

IQ is generally considered to be an ability that you are born with rather than something learned. It is associated with the ability to reason, use logic, develop abstract thought and it often leads to academic qualifications. If you see people displaying logical thought, common sense, mental clarity, and high intellect, it is likely that they have a high IQ.

The relative importance of the IQ test has, perhaps, faded over time, as we have become more aware of other factors that contribute to a persons intelligence.

Emotional Quotient (EQ)

EQ is essentially a measure of a persons ability to understand his or her own emotions and those of other people; and to use this intelligence to guide their thinking and behaviour. It relates to social and emotional competencies and can usually be acquired and improved, rather than being a purely innate ability.

Compared to IQ, it is a recent term, coined by Daniel Goleman in his book on emotional intelligence, published in 1995. Of course, the concepts behind EQ are anything but new: high EQ is demonstrated by the ability to identify, express, and control thoughts and actions, better understand other people, make better decisions, and cope with the pressure of making decisions that affect others. These concepts have been around since the civilization of mankind and, arguably, before!

High EQ is often associated with strong mental health, flexibility and adaptability, self-control, good emotional balance, strong relationships and, increasingly, better performance at work.

EQ and IQ in the workplace

As mentioned, this is not an either/or. Most successful people have a good combination of both, with perhaps a slight emphasis on one over the other. A person with an acute imbalance of IQ over EQ would behave like a computer (you may know a few of those) and someone with the opposite imbalance of EQ over IQ may lack the basic intelligence qualities to hold a meaningful conversation.

The relative importance of each in the workplace usually depends on the role in question. For instance, in leadership, we might respect a person because of their academic qualifications, experience, job skills, and knowledge of the systems and processes; but unless they have the necessary emotional intelligence to listen to, understand, and empathise with our needs, hopes, goals, and feelings, then it is unlikely that we will form a close bond with them or that we will allow them to greatly influence us.

Most of the best leaders, then, have the EQ to be able to connect with their people beyond a superficial, functional level; by truly engaging with their team members, they have the capacity to motivate and inspire them to better performance. They have a strong positive influence.

If we consider another role such as an IT administrator (a little stereotyped, I know) who works alone and does not have a team to manage – only system and processes – then emotional intelligence is less of a factor. IQ is certainly needed in abundance though.

Is there a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace?

Are we presently seeing the effects of a lack of emotional intelligence in the workplace? Dale Carnegie Training found recently that 29% of the workforce is engaged, 45% are not engaged, and 26% are actively disengaged.

This is a serious problem when it comes to performance. Less than one-third of the workforce is well-motivated to perform at peak by feeling engaged with their organisation.

Millennial employees crave for meaningful work. This means that they need to feel connected to the organisations vision and values; they want to see how they fit in and can contribute. This is difficult to achieve without having leaders with the emotional intelligence to be able to communicate effectively with their people at a level deeper than the purely superficial.

If your organisation is suffering from a negative culture, poor collaboration, lack of progress towards goals, high staff turnover, difficulty filling vacancies with millennials, and so on, these may all be signs that a lack of emotional intelligence in leadership is restricting you. It won’t happen overnight, but more EQ can be introduced with the right initiatives.

If you want to find out more about how developing emotional intelligence can help your organisation, please email me at: ush@collaboratehr.com.au.