Emotional Intelligence Myths #2: EQ in more important than IQ

There is a commonly held belief that EQ, not IQ is the best predictor of success.  There is much debate about which is the more important.  A major cause of this belief is no doubt due to the subtitle of Daniel Goleman’s seminal 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.  Since then EQ expert after EQ expert quotes statistics such as people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 per cent of the time and explain the difference as being due to emotional intelligence.  Or that EQ accounts for 80 percent of success.

The irony is that Daniel Goleman himself denies that EQ is more important than IQ!!  Instead Goleman correctly argues that IQ is a good surrogate for the cognitive complexity a person can process which in turn determines technical competence.  For many jobs technical expertise is what determines whether a person can get and hold a job.  Indeed a 1998 paper by Schmidt and Hunter reviewed 85 years of research on personnel selection and concluded the best selection technique was to test for general mental ability combined with integrity.  The best employees are those who are smart and honest.

However to rise to management or leadership positions in one’s field then you require something extra.  What Goleman says is that of the other factors (luck, experience, qualifications, etc.) it is probably emotional intelligence that counts the most.  Note he never gives a figure.

One year before the publication of Goleman’s book the Australian Government commissioned the Karpin Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills which in turn carried out a research project where 100 experienced business managers were surveyed as to what they thought were the two ideal management characteristics of the consummate manager.  The results were illuminating:

Good “people” skills                                                                     75%

Strategic thinker                                                                           58%

Visionary                                                                                        52%

Flexible and adaptable to change                                              50%

Self management                                                                          33%

Team player                                                                                   32%

Ability to solve complex problems and make decisions       25%

Ethical/high personal standards                                               23%

These managers rated “people skills” or EQ as three times more important than IQ (Ability to solve complex problems).  So instead of saying EQ is more important than IQ it is far better to remember that “IQ gets you the job but it is EQ that gets you promoted.”

 If you want to learn what are your core emotional drives do this simple quiz.


Chris Golis

23 Nov,2017
Hi Lee Thanks for comment. I do Emotional Intelligence Coaching if you are interested. https://www.emotionalintelligencecourse.com/coaching/ Cheers


23 Nov,2017
thanks for sharing. You've got excellent ideas in here and I will surely love to incorporate them to my life

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