There’s not a lot we can do about the processing power between our ears. For the most part, we’re stuck with whatever IQ we’ve got. The good news for many of us is that our IQ is less important to success and happiness than our EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence). What’s even better is that EQ, unlike IQ, can be improved. If we’re green and growing, we can smarten up.

I’ve extensively quoted and cited the expanding body of emotional intelligence (EI) research for many years in my writing and workshops. This rigorous and ever-deepening research provides hard evidence for the catalytic power of “soft skills” in personal, team, and organizational performance. EI brings empirical science and greater clarity to the fuzzy topic of leadership.


Off Balance: High IQ Leaders Often Have Lower EQ

Many of our audience and workshop participants are STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) specialists who have been promoted to management positions because of their technical expertise. But, too often, STEMM leadership is an oxymoron. Zenger Folkman’s study comparing 360 assessments of STEMM versus non-STEMM leaders shows STEMM leaders are rated lower in leadership effectiveness.

In reflecting on the causes of lower STEMM leadership, Jack writes, “We wonder if staying abreast of the technology in the STEMM disciplines is so engrossing and demanding that it leaves little time and energy for the interpersonal and organizational requirements of leadership. Further, this immersion in the technology occurs in the formative years of a person’s higher education and career, when most patterns of social and emotional demeanor are set into personality traits.”


Dumbing Down by Focusing on the Wrong Smarts

Our society admires strength and power. Since the early games of the ancient Olympics, we’ve had contests of strength, stamina, speed, and the like. We’ve approached brainpower or intellectual abilities in the same way. We’re in awe of intellectual giants with memory, reasoning, or complex problem-solving abilities far beyond our own. IQ tests were developed to measure this intellectual strength and power.

We’ve come to believe that highly intelligent people make the best professors, doctors, managers, scientists, and so on. Many people believe that high IQ and high levels of success and happiness go together.

But many intellectual giants are emotional pip-squeaks. We all know people who can run mental circles around us lesser mortals, but their lives are a mess. Many “do not suffer fools gladly.” Their cutting wit or biting sarcasm often shows an arrogant, superior attitude that arouses resentment and reduces cooperation. Too many are bully bosses.

Low emotional awareness and self-regulation result in damaged relationships, businesses, families, or teams. Something is missing. There’s more to a successful life or leadership effectiveness than a strong head; we also need a strong heart. Intelligence is only part of the equation; we also need to deal with the human factors — the humanness in others and ourselves. We need to deal with perceptions and emotions.


Practical Tips and Techniques to Boost EI Levels

Emotional intelligence speaker and author, Harvey Deutschendorf, just published, Emotional Intelligence Game Changers: 101 Simple Ways to Win at Work and Life.

Harvey’s opening lines define the essence of EI; “The ancient Greeks were quite aware of the power of emotions. ‘Anyone can get angry — that is easy,’ Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2; ‘but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy.’ Aristotle nailed the challenge of emotional intelligence — the skill of understanding and channeling our emotions, rather than letting them control us.”

Harvey’s succinctly boiled down decades of EI research to very practical application points and exercises. The book is highly readable in bite-sized pieces. Each mini-chapter provides crisp how-to points, ending with a brief application exercise.

The first three chapters provide a strong start to strengthening emotional intelligence by expanding on these key points:


Develop Self-Awareness

  • Write down your emotions
  • Become aware of what triggers you and why
  • Avoid making judgements about emotions
  • Feel the discomfort and do it anyway
  • Check how you show up physically
  • Increase your feeling vocabulary


Boost Your Emotional Intelligence

  • Increase self-awareness
  • Build effective relationships with others
  • Increase communication and listening skills
  • Increase empathy
  • Build teamwork and cooperation
  • Model healthy emotional management
  • Articulate a shared vision for the organization


Hone the Art of Influencing Others

  • Develop listening abilities
  • Follow nonverbal cues
  • Recognize the accomplishments of others
  • Ask for advice from others
  • Say their name and remember important details about them
  • Look for common ground

The other 98 mini-chapters provide how-to steps for a very wide variety of situations as a quick reference guide.


Emotional Intelligence Boosts Leadership Smarts

Leadership lives in emotions, feelings, and perceptions. A Zenger Folkman study showed employee perceptions of their work group’s productivity correlate with their ratings of their immediate manager on inspiration. The results clearly show the enormous emotional impact of the leader.

Like artists, effective leaders stimulate our emotions, influence our perceptions, and help us look at situations in new ways. These skills — and the leadership principles that guide their development — are critical to the success of an organization or team.

Often cited as the epitome of genius-level IQ, Einstein said, “We should take care not to make the intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead, it can only serve.”