EQ, where the personal meets the professional

 If IQ is all about knowledge, EQ is all about self-knowledge.

Emotional intelligence – EI, or EQ (“emotional quotient” as opposed to IQ, “intelligence quotient”) – I prefer EQ - is an increasingly important quality that companies are looking for in employees. However, it is also something employees are looking for in employers, customers are looking for in companies, mentees are looking for in mentors https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mentors-who-why-where-how-often-marie-langan and potential partners are looking for in each other on a personal level. Sounds like it makes the world go round? It is certainly being taken very seriously by the business community and is often quoted in articles about leadership, the future of the workplace and/or the future workforce. This week I will be looking at EQ, how it's measured as such, and how it can help you inside and outside of work.

EQ is all about understanding emotions, what you and others are feeling and why, and how our feelings impact others. By identifying emotions, you can learn to control them and use emotional information to guide your thinking and behaviour to achieve better outcomes. As you can imagine, it is very difficult to measure. In fact, many believe that the skills inherent in EQ are better identified as personality traits https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trait_theory, and that EQ in itself is not worth considering as a separate measure. Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman first put EQ on the map, although it had been already identified as a phenomenon. According to Goleman, EQ accounts for nearly 90% of what moves people up the ladder when IQ and technical skills are at the same level (see his article “What Makes a Leader” - Harvard Business Review, January 2004 at https://hbr.org/2004/01/what-makes-a-leader). Where IQ and technical abilities are similar among a peer group, which is basically what happens when you specialise in a profession, EQ becomes a significant differentiator. See Goleman discuss his findings in this 4 minute introduction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJhfKYzKc0s. Goleman's book “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ” (1995) was a best seller and brought the term into popular use.

However, EQ isn't just about being nice, and it isn’t something biologically unique to women – let’s not repeat the controversy of the recent ex-Google employee's manifesto http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320. Another common trap that people fall into is believing that there only needs to be a couple of emotionally intelligent people in the office to deal with “people matters”, that is, to empathise with people when things go wrong, and keep up the team's morale. So that the rest of the team can focus on the hard, technical skills and don't need to worry about their EQ. But there is much more to EQ than just being a shoulder to cry on. In addition to compassion, EQ also encompasses strengths under pressure, such as facing up to conflict, neutralising “toxic” team mates, and speaking up when others are not willing to. In short, the tough stuff as well as the soft stuff. All-round EQ therefore gives you the makings of an excellent leader. So ignore it at your peril if you are ambitious in your organisation, or looking for good relationships in your personal life.

On LinkedIn, EQ is well served by regular articles from Thrive Global https://www.thriveglobal.com/ and Dr Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart http://www.talentsmart.com/articles,/, whose book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 comes with an extensive EQ test and appraisal tool for application in industry. A test of EQ is by no means essential, although it can be useful in helping you to identify attributes that you may have overlooked, and which may be valued by others in your organisation. For that reason, it does no harm to look at some of the concepts and behaviours that are associated with the term, and assess yourself and your EQ against these.

Typical EQ related concepts and behaviours are as follows:


  • How your emotions and actions impact others
  • Differences in preferences and styles of leadership
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Behaviour and attitude
  • Tone – spoken and unspoken
  • Learning from mistakes – don't beat yourself up (or anyone else)



  • Enthusiasm
  • Giving positive feedback and encouragement on a timely basis – showing appreciation, saying thank you
  • Leading by example – meeting deadlines, punctuality, respect, fairness
  • Working collaboratively - don't isolate yourself – engage with your colleagues, share information and respect each other's differences
  • Communication – if people know what's expected of them, and are updated regularly as to the direction they are moving, good or bad, they will be more engaged
  • Embracing change – at home and at work


  • Putting yourself in other people’s shoes
  • Building rapport by being friendly and approachable
  • Having genuine concern for the wellbeing of your colleagues
  • Making time to speak with people to deepen your relationship and build trust
  • Listening and reflecting.

A level of emotional literacy is important for today’s digital business world, where communications have never been more instant and easy, whilst also being global and remote, unaided by the signals you can detect when communications are face-to-face. The rise of emojis has been in response to the challenge inherent in electronic communications, where it’s possible to misread intentions and cause offence (and even emojis are subject to misinterpretation, especially given the translation differences across platforms and cultures https://gs5.gadgethacks.com/how-to/see-what-your-android-emojis-look-like-iphones-before-sending-them-0160693/)

The changing workplace is also a hot topic at the moment. We’ve had hot desking, hoteling, remote working, internships, returnships, apprenticeships, workspace hubs, social index, Artificial Intelligence and lots of other innovations in the world of work, and the stage is always set for a brand new disruptor. How we work as teams in an increasingly automated world is a concern, as is the rise of automation itself. There is a keen focus on the activities that cannot be performed by a robot, and how important these activities are. People skills and EQ fall squarely in that bracket.

So what will change, and how will EQ feature in future recruitment and assessment? It's not easy to measure in terms of numbers, but EQ is the kind of thing that gets picked up in 360 degree type evaluation, that more and more companies are using as part of their performance assessment programs. It's also something interviewers are looking out for, and is being measured by the psychometric testing companies carry out during the recruitment process. More importantly, it is a tool we can all use in evaluating ourselves ahead of our next career move, whether that's making a decision to stay where we are, leave, or go for promotion.

Finally, EQ is so important on a personal level that it is on the school curriculum in some countries. It features very effectively in Pixar's recent animated movie Inside Out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdhjztWMnVw . Well worth a watch – even as an adult it is instructive. It gets 8.2/10 on IMDB and 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, if you are the kind of person who believes in scores.

Next week will be a challenge for me as far as posting an article as I will be in Hong Kong and Singapore for a couple of weeks! However, I have been asked to write something on older people (50+) in the workplace. So please send me your experiences, good and bad, and I will be back in September to engage with that particular topic. 

Until the next time!