“IQ” only accounts for 20 percent of success

January 4, 2010

Yes, everyone wants to shine at work.  Be noticed for doing something well, producing the best product or outcomes, or having the best ideas and plans.  This is natural and desirable. Most of us may think it is best done by being the smartest or brightest one in the mix.  But that’s not the case.  IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, has been found to account for only 20 percent or less of the contribution to success in the work place.  Just pure “smarts” and technical ability won’t get you where you want to go.  So, what will?

Daniel Goleman and others have well researched, documented, and written about Emotional Intelligence and its impact on successful work interactions and careers.  We all are familiar with the work colleagues who slow down, interrupt, or stop effectiveness through a host of childlike or inappropriate emotionally based behaviors.  The list is long, including anger, triangulating relationships, jealousy, hoarding or withholding, passive aggressiveness, and generally flat lining (no emotional response at all).  People behaving with these emotions are not only difficult to be around as they play poorly in the sandbox, they also make the work world far less productive.

What does a high Emotional Quotient look like or contain.  Goleman lists the following emotional competencies.

  • Self Awareness – Knowing oneself, having a realistic view of one’s abilities, and having a well-grounded sense of self-confidence
  • Self-Regulation – Managing one’s internal states, impulses and resources.  Handling emotions in a way that facilitates rather than interfers and recovering well from distress
  • Motivation – using one’s deepest preferences to move and guide toward our goals; having the energy to improve, bounce back, and persevere
  • Empathy – Sensing what others are feeling, being able to take their perspectives, and cultivating rapport with a wide diversity of people
  • Social Skills – Handling emotions in relationships well, accurately reading social situations and networks….interacting smoothly to lead, negotiate, and settle disputes for cooperation and teamwork

People who possess the above five tend to be those with obvious honesty and integrity, show resilience, have unique potential and commitment, have influence without positional authority, possess a large trust radius, and display positive emotional energy.

What if your organization has “hired wrong”, put up with emotional basket cases for too long, or just has a poor emotional climate from one or more emotional polluters?  What do you do?

  • First, training and development must go past its focus on technical and compliance issues to include areas such as self-awareness, personal decision making, handling stress, developing and using empathy, effective communication, personal responsibility, and conflict resolution.  These are harder to absorb.  They are not data driven but must be experienced and ingested!
  • Second, new hires need to be evaluated and ranked/rated on emotional criteria as well as technical skills and pure output.  A close look at job history with the right behavioral interviewing can help.
  • Third, catch problems early before they grow and explode.  Doing nothing allows issues to grow, and grow they will!
  • Fourth, partnering with and mentoring from your highly effective leaders will help.
  • Fifth, one-on-one or small group coaching can be effective.

Whether personally or organizationally, we tend to let emotional quotient issues remain static, assuming there is nothing to do other than ignore, put up with, or just fire people.  Far from the case; as seen above, there is a lot that can be done.  It’s not easy; but, have you tried?