Why the Forbes article Why Your Boss Lacks Emotional Intelligence is rubbish.

Forbes recently published on 6 January 2015 a blog by Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Why Your Boss Lacks Emotional Intelligence. The key message in the article was the following graph.

According to Bradberry “the EQ scores descend faster than a snowboarder on a black diamond. CEOs, on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace.” And looking at the graph you would be hard pressed not to come to the same conclusion. However if you have read that great book How to Lie with Statistics by Daniel Huff you will realise that Bradberry has used one of the oldest tricks in the book, rescaling the Y axis of a graph.

Look at this graph which uses the same data but with axis rescaled 0-100%.

Now the graph looks relatively flat and indeed one could conclude that the EQ levels across the seven groups are roughly the same.

The real problem is that EQ 2.0 is a self reporting test. And like a sense of humour most of us will report that we are substantially better than average. In addition you would expect on a self-reporting test that CEOs would be slightly lower as they would have be more likely to a more realistic self assessment.

Of course this result does suffer from an internal self contradiction. One of the key messages of EQ proponents is that while IQ gets you the job, EQ gets you the promotion. However if the group with the lowest EQ is the most highly promoted then what is going on?

According to Bradberry the answer is that for every title in the graph above, the top performers are those with the highest EQ scores. Even though CEOs have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace, the best-performing CEOs are those with the highest EQs. You might get promoted with a low EQ, but you won’t outshine your high-EQ competition in your new role. No evidence is presented for this argument but intuitively I would actually agree.

Bradberry then goes on to say there are five EQ boosting strategies leaders can follow:

  1. Acknowledge Other People’s Feelings
  2. When You Care, Show It
  3. Watch Your Emotions Like A Hawk
  4. Sleep
  5. Quash Negative Self-Talk

While this are all good motherhood statements these are not the most useful or practical strategies.

Emotional Intelligence is achieving self- and social mastery by being smart with core emotions.

Self-Mastery = Awareness + Management (Steps 1 & 2 as defined by Goleman)

Social Mastery = Empathy + Social Skills (Steps 3 &4 as defined by Goleman

However the key to emotional intelligence is understanding your core emotions compared to your transient emotions. Your core emotions are driven by your temperament – what you are genetically born with. Based on a study of 11,000 identical twins nature is around twice as important as nurture. I have found the 7MTF/Humm-Wadsworth model of seven core emotions the most practical tool for people to use and once understood (takes a day) dramatically lifts their emotional intelligence.


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Chris Golis - Author


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