Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

EQ and IQ: How would you describe your top performer?

By Kathryn Hobbs

27 Mar 2018

EQ and IQ: How would you describe your top performer?

At an event, communications consultant Kathryn Hobbs heard this question: “How would you describe your top performer?” Here’s what happened during the subsequent conversation.

Asked to think about words associated with this high performing colleague, people said, “resilient”, “committed”, “ambitious”, “supportive”, “goes above and beyond”.

We were asked to consider how many of these words related to IQ or EQ (emotional intelligence); whether they are skills or mindset focused.

Then came the clincher: “What does your organisation invest in when recruiting and developing people: skills or mindset?”

As pennies collectively dropped around the room, it became clear that many organisations prioritise (and spend their learning and development budgets on) skills training rather than mindset, resilience or other EQ attributes.

What is EQ?

EQ is a term created by two researchers – Peter Salovey and John Mayer – and popularised by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book: ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

A generally accepted definition of EQ is the ability to:

  • Recognise, understand and manage our own emotions
  • Recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others

In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behaviour and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure.

In most industries, IQ variation is minimal between people in similar technical roles, so it doesn’t really help to differentiate performance. For example, one lawyer will have much the same academic background and experience as another. How they perform and their relative levels of EQ may vary more widely.

EQ has become much more important. What is your organisation investing in?

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