Big Problem with EQ

There is a big problem with emotional intelligence. And it all started with Goleman’s book. While there is increasing agreement about what EQ is and why it is important, there is little or no understanding about how you can improve your own EQ.

The common statement is that People drive performance and emotions drive people. What is missing is vital third link what drives emotions. I would argue that it is temperament that drives emotions. Temperament is genetic; it refers to the characteristics and aspects of personality that we are born with.

In 1990, the science of emotional intelligence was launched with an intriguing paper by Peter Salovey and John Mayer. Where conventional thinking says emotions are in the way of thinking, they suggested that, perhaps, emotions could assist thinking if used effectively. Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book then popularised the subject selling 5 million copies in 5 years. EQ was conceptualized as the ability to recognize, understand, and control one’s own emotions. At this stage it was really an academic study, and researchers believed it was a form of intelligence that could be tested through ability measures, just like IQ or cognitive intelligence. That’s why it was called EQ. While the concept was interesting, what’s been found is that this “ability” version of EQ has not been a good predictor of important outcomes like job performance. So although it’s interesting in a theoretical sense, its usefulness has been very limited.

In the 2000s, the concept was widely known, but yet unproven. This second decade was a period of validation, where we learned that emotional intelligence is correlated with a wide variety of valuable outcomes in business, in education, and in life. While research is ongoing, by 2010 the case for EQ has become well established.

Supposedly the third decade of emotional intelligence will be about application. The approach began with Goleman and Richard Boyatzis who developed a competency-based model of EQ. Their model was based on a number of skills, or competencies, and essentially was an umbrella for every ability not covered by either traditional IQ or personality measures. Because it was such a broad model, its relationship to job performance has been very mixed. Some skills in the model were related to performance while others were not, and also it predicted performance in some types of jobs or roles better than others. For example EQ was more relevant for people in customer facing roles or who deal with individuals on a constant basis, such as sales, police, and customer service, than it was for people who do not work frequently with other people. Another criticism of competency-based models is that they ignore the context of where EQ is practiced. They tend to be very global models, and the truth is people will act differently and display EQ differently depending on the situation and who they’re interacting with. A recent meta-analysis in the prestigious Journal of Applied Psychology, strongly cautions against using competency-based EQ models for these reasons

You are now seeing attempts to apply personality models such as DISC-Social Styles, NLP and Myers Briggs to EQ. These models suffer from two main issues:

  1. They are not based on temperament. NLP is a model of how we receive data (sight, sound or touch) while Myer-Briggs is a model about how we make decisions.
  2. The model of emotions is too simplistic and only based on two temperament components DISC-Social Styles

The other approach (Neuroscience) is at too micro a level to be practically useful.


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Chris Golis - Author


"Put in a sales perspective, I loved your presentation! I got a lot from what you talked about and I will read your book."

Peter Morris, Executive Officer, Lomax Financial Group

Your presentation on 'Lifting your Level of Emotional Intelligence" to 10 CEOs scored an average 8.9 out of 10 for the topic and 8.5 for the presentation which is great. A couple of the attendees gave you a 10 out of 10, and the comments were:

- Great presentation. Very informative.

- Excellent presentation.

- made me think.

Christi Spring CEO Institute. - web