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What's EQ?

Watch & read the following videos and articles to learn more about emotional intelligence, or EQ.
Then, complete the questions that follow.

Watch: What is Emotional Intelligence?
By School of Life. 5 Min.



1. At 3:43 the video describes 'Emotional Education' and it being different from the formal education we are used to receiving. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) how would you rate your knowledge, or exposure, to the subject of emotional intelligence? *

Read: How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill
Andrea Owens, Harvard Business Review, 5 min.


Anyone trying to come up to speed on emotional intelligence would have a pretty easy time of it since the concept is remarkably recent, and its application to business newer still. The term was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. Some years later, Mayer defined it in HBR this way:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.

It took almost a decade after the term was coined for Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman to establish the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership.  In 1998, in what has become one of HBR’s most enduring articles, “What Makes a Leader,” he states unequivocally:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

The article then goes on to introduce five components of emotional intelligence that allow individuals to recognize, connect with, and learn from their own and other people’s mental states:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
  • Empathy for others
  • Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

An understanding of what exactly constitutes emotional intelligence is important not only because the capacity is so central to leadership but because people strong in some of its elements can be utterly lacking in others, sometimes to disastrous effect.  You can see Salovey, now Yale’s provost, making this point vividly in a talk he gave at a 2010 leadership conference in which he describes how a single picture (which we can’t even see) illustrates the remarkable disparity in the emotional intelligence of  President Clinton, who was so remarkable in his empathy and yet so devoid of self-control.

In subsequent work, Goleman focuses more deeply on these various elements of emotional intelligence. In 2001, with Case Western Reserve professor Richard Boyatzis and U.Penn faculty member Annie McKee, he explored the contagious nature of emotions at work, and the link between leaders’ emotional states and their companies’ financial success in “Primal Leadership.” In 2008, in “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership,” Goleman and Boyatzis take a closer look at the mechanisms of social intelligence (the wellsprings of empathy and social skills). And most recently, in “The Focused Leader,” Goleman applies advances in neuroscience research to explain how leaders can increase each element of emotional intelligence by understanding and improving the various ways they focus their attention, both expansively and narrowly.

It is perhaps an indication of how young this field is (or perhaps how fundamental Goleman’s typology is to it) that pretty much the entire canon of thinking on the subject in HBR also focuses on one or another of these elements of emotional intelligence as Goleman laid them out.

In “Cultural Intelligence,” for instance, Elaine Mosakowiski of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and LBS professor Christopher Earley take an in-depth look at one important social skill, the ability to adjust to different contexts, offering a diagnostic to help you gauge your abilities and a six-step process for improving them.  In “Contextual Intelligence,” HBS professor Tarun Khanna examines how leaders develop what Goleman calls “cognitive empathy,” the aspect of social intelligence that “enables leaders to pick up implied norms and learn the unique mental models of a new culture.” In Emotional Agility, consultants Susan David and Christina Congleton, focus on one aspect of self-regulation, detailing a process for recognizing and rechanneling your negative emotions, an idea echoed in Kellogg school professor Leigh Thompson and U. Chicago behavioral science professor Tanya Menon’s approach to coping with envy at work. And in “Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups,” Steven Wolff of Marist College, and another CWR professor, Vanessa Urch Druskat, examine how emotional intelligence is manifested in and strengthens teams.

The year that Mayer and Salovey coined the term emotional intelligence was the same year functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was invented, making it possible for the first time to see what was happening in the brain while it was in action. Goleman’s work is infused with these insights, and HBR has reported on the most surprising research in this area, particularly in the last five years:

And just this month, HBR’s editors reported on the strong link between empathetic leaders and financial performance. Collectively they form an impressive and growing body of evidence suggesting the integrated nature of our rational and emotional selves and the impossibility and inadvisability of separating the two at work.

Still, it is sign that the field is reaching a certain level of maturity that we are beginning to see some counterarguments. Most notably, a Wharton professor, Adam Grant, who in his own research has reported a lack of correlation between scores on tests of emotional intelligence and business results. While Goleman and others contest his methods, Mayer himself pointed out in 2002 HBR article that “emotional intelligence isn’t the only way to attain success as a leader. A brilliant strategist who can maximize profits may be able to hire and keep talented employees even if he or she doesn’t have strong personal connections with them.” But building those strong connections is still probably a safer bet than ignoring them.





Watch: The Power of Emotional Intelligence
Travis Bradberry TED Talk. 19 Min.





Watch: How We've Been Misled by Emotional Intelligence
Kris Girrell TED Talk. 15 Min.




Read & Watch: EQ vs. IQ Article
By Diffen Psychology 20 minutes


EQ vs IQ

Emotional Intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is defined as an individual's ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions. People with high EQ usually make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize, and connect with the people around them. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess an individual's intelligence.

IQ is used to determine academic abilities and identify individuals with off-the-chart intelligence or mental challenges. EQ is a better indicator of success in the workplace and is used to identify leaders, good team players, and people who best work by themselves.

Comparison Chart


What is EQ?

According to the University of New Hampshire psychology department, emotional intelligence is the "ability to validly reason with emotions and to use emotions to enhance thought." EQ refers to an individual's ability to perceive, control, evaluate, and express emotions. People with high EQ can manage emotions, use their emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings and accurately perceive others' emotions. EQ is partially determined by how a person relates to others and maintains emotional control.

What is IQ?

Intelligence quotient or IQ is a score received from standardized assessments designed to test intelligence. IQ relates directly to intellectual pursuits such as the ability to learn as well as understand and apply information to skill sets. IQ covers logical reasoning, word comprehension and math skills. People with higher IQ can think in abstracts and make connections by making generalizations easier.

Can EQ or IQ be Enhanced?

Emotional awareness is best inculcated from an early age by encouraging qualities like sharing, thinking about others, putting oneself in another person's shoes, giving individual space and the general principles of cooperation. There are toys and games available to increase emotional intelligence, and children who do not do well in social settings are known to perform significantly better after taking SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) classes. Adult EQ can also be enhanced, although to a limited extent through effective coaching.

There are some conditions like high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger's where one of the symptoms may be low-empathy. While some studies found that adults with Asperger's have low-empathy, there are have been studies with control groups that indicate EQ can be changed in individuals with HFA or Aspergers.

IQ is more of a genetic make, but there are several ways to tap an individual's IQ to its highest potential through brain-food and mental ability exercises like puzzles, lateral thinking problems, and problem-solving techniques that make you think outside the box.

In the video below, Laci Green of DNews talks about what science has discovered about emotionally intelligent people:


What's More Important — IQ or EQ?

There are differing perspectives on whether EQ or IQ is more important. Those in the EQ camp say "A high IQ will get you through school, a high EQ will get you through life."

There are also those who believe cognitive ability (IQ) is a better predictor of success and EQ is overrated, sometimes even in emotionally demanding jobs. One meta-studycompiled results from several studies comparing IQ and EQ, and researchers found that IQ accounted for more than 14% of job performance; emotional intelligence for less than 1%.


For a long time, IQ was believed to be the ultimate measure for success in careers and life in general, but there are studies that show a direct relation between higher EQ and successful professionals. People with high EQ generally achieve more, excel at teamwork and service and take more initiative. Several corporations and large organizations have mandated EQ tests during the hiring process, and have coaching seminars on emotional and social skills. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is gaining a lot of popularity not only with professionals, but also among students.

IQ tests are used most in the field of education and psychology. IQ tests are standardized to recognize highly capable/gifted individuals as well as individuals who need special assistance in the classroom. IQ predicts success with academic achievements, and has often been used to determine career options for graduating students.

Measurement and Testing

Although measuring EQ is very subjective, there are several standardized tests that measure emotional intelligence. Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test puts testers through a series of emotion-based problem-solving questions. The score reflects a person's capacity for reasoning with emotional information. Goleman's model of measurement focuses on emotional competencies. Goleman's model utilizes one of two tests: the Emotional Competency Inventory or the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal. Both tests have their own set of proponents and critics.

Theorists have attempted to make IQ testing more objective. The Stanford-Binet test was the first true IQ assessment because it factored in age. The score is based on the test-taker's mental age, as evaluated by the test, divided by the chronological age multiplied by 100. American psychologist David Wechsler developed three IQ tests; one for preschool and primary children, one for older children and one for adults. The score is based on factor analysis. Sub-tests of the assessment are evaluated against age-based norms. Another commonly-used test is the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities. With the Woodcock-Johnson, extensive tests assess a wide variety of cognitive abilities. All three tests are still in use, and no one test is commonly considered the best or most accurate.

Pros and Cons of Testing

Both EQ and IQ testing is controversial. For EQ testing, proponents cite that EQ helps predict work success and teamwork ability. However, because emotional intelligence runs contrary to the conventional definitions of intelligence, testing is not an accurate predictor of academic or work success. So, while people with high EQ do well in the workplace, tests do not necessarily predict who has a high EQ. Part of the problem comes in the unreliability of the results. Often, people may not answer accurately because they're trying to do well. Therefore, by definition, the results are subjective.

IQ tests are in regular use in education especially, as well as other industries. Proponents of testing cite that it is a standardized assessment that shows intelligence transcends class, measures the need for special education and measures the effectiveness of special training and programs. IQ testing can also reveal unsuspected talents. But the limitation of these tests is that they provide limited information. They do not test underlying cognitive processes, nor do they predict success at work because they do not encompass non-academic intellectual abilities. Likewise, original or novel responses get marked as wrong even if they show intelligent thinking. Knowing an IQ score may limit children. Finally, IQ tests may reflect bias against minorities or other cultures with certain types of questions.


The theory of EQ only dates back to 1985. Wayne Payne proposed the theory in his doctoral thesis "A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence." The idea of EQ became more widely known with Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

The idea of quantifying intelligence dates back to 1883. English statistician Francis Galton's wrote about the idea in his paper "Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development." French psychologist Alfred Binet developed a test in 1905. This first IQ test was an attempt to classify school children in France based on intellectual ability.




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For Further Learning

Read: Emotional Intelligence as a Standard Intelligence. Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, Sitarenios. Yale University, 2001.
Watch: Emotional Intelligence: From Theory to Everyday Practice. Yale University.
Read: The Focused Leader, by Daniel Goleman. Harvard Business Review.