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IQ versus EQ in the workplace

Posted on: 23rd March 2017

Reading time:  6 mins

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Is your team in need of a quiet problem solver or an empathetic ear? Understanding how to assess IQ and EQ will help you decide – and reap the rewards

Is your team in need of a quiet problem solver or an empathetic ear? Understanding how to assess IQ and EQ will help you decide – and reap the rewards


Is your team in need of a quiet problem solver or an empathetic ear? Understanding how to assess IQ and EQ will help you decide – and reap the rewards

The most effective CEOs make good use of both their intelligence quotient (IQ) and their emotional quotient (EQ). The eloquence, good memory and capacity for learning indicated by a high IQ are attributes you’d expect any prominent business leader to possess. But EQ is equally important; an executive’s ability to read body language accurately and tune into the emotional state of others can be the difference between winning or losing a deal. So what’s the best way to reflect on the respective strengths of these measures? 
The makings of a leader 
A successful leader needs to be at ease switching between emotionally driven decisions and purely intellectual ones. Analytical work, such as developing a profit and loss model, should be carried out without bias or personal preference. But when you’re winning over a new client, that methodical side needs to take the back seat in favour of evaluating their emotional state and understanding what matters most to them. Success in the role isn’t determined by IQ or EQ alone, but an awareness that each factor brings new layers of understanding to every situation.
Those with a high IQ are creative problem solvers who can think quickly and constructively to determine the best course of action – important attributes for senior figures in a company. They’re able to accurately weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of complex situations and make nuanced decisions, and, as a result, can lead teams to exceed targets and become more productive. 
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 reports that every point increase in EQ adds $1300 to yearly salary, across all industries, markets and roles. Call centre agents, salespeople and counsellors are all better at their jobs if they have a high EQ score. Yet research in the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that high EQ produces lower performance in fields such as accountancy and tech, where tasks are likely to involve more calculations than conversations. In this type of job, workers who are able to distance themselves from emotional concerns are more efficient and successful.
Building teams with brains and hearts
Staff with a high EQ can be great at engaging and motivating their less socially adept colleagues, but may not be as naturally creative or innovative as others on the team. On the flipside, workers with high IQs might deliver excellent insights and solutions, but struggle to integrate and collaborate with colleagues unless they’re properly understood and supported.
People with a high IQ are good at absorbing new information and thinking on their feet, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always geniuses. While it may be the most commonly used test for intelligence, Mensa warns that the IQ measure is “often confused with knowledge, wisdom, memory, or a myriad of other attributes”. Even people with extremely high IQs may struggle to solve problems or think laterally, while people with lower IQs may be able to make unexpected contributions by drawing on their life experience or technical skillset.
Whether you’re hiring a line manager or looking to further develop your own professional skillset, EQ can be the difference between narrowly missing the mark and exceeding all expectations. Strong leaders are able to bond well with their team and can empathise with their struggles, both of which come naturally to people with a high EQ. To build a highly effective team, it’s crucial that you look for a healthy balance of both quotients. Weave this into your recruitment process by integrating behaviour-based questions around self-awareness and relationship management into your initial interviews.
Using IQ and EQ to understand your team 
An awareness of IQ and EQ can help you to get the best out of the individuals that make up a team. If you use these measures to identify where your staff’s strengths lie, you’re able to better mitigate their shortcomings and capitalise on their strengths. For example, it’s natural for high-IQ workers to sometimes struggle with self-expression though their ideas are worth shouting about, and it might be difficult to quantify the value of the office ‘good guy’ if you don’t look beyond KPIs, but his ability to draw his shy teammates out in discussions is a useful skill. Keeping EQ and IQ in mind helps you consider and articulate the subtleties of your team’s dynamics, allowing you to lead more effectively and achieve the outcomes you want.
On the surface, we’re all familiar with the stereotypes surrounding high IQ and high EQ workers. But too often managers overlook one of these measures when assessing and motivating their teams. Ultimately, appreciating the differences between the two types of intelligence and utilising this information to manage individuals and teams gives everyone the best chance of excelling in their role. 
Looking for smarter ways of working? Regus has a network of 3,000 locations in over 1,000 towns and cities across the world. Explore how we can help you discover the perfect workplace environment for your business needs.

Topics in this article

  • Work Trends


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