A recent Linkedin blog post poses the question “Which is more important Emotional Quotient or Intelligence Quotient?” and “Which one is more effective to manage teams and get results?”
While the blog post does a very good job of describing how effective high EQ folks can be, there are some risks in thinking EQ versus IQ.
Posing the question as EQ versus IQ can get folks to the wrong place already. The high EQ organization with a large bunch of unintelligent people might be great if you are running a nursery or a convent but not so good if you are an executive group running a complex organization or business.
There are far too many people in organizations today that are being promoted because they are effective in groups. The problem is that they don’t always do anything with their new positions to improve the organization or they use these high EQ skills to hold back those with ideas that can improve the business and move the organization forward.
You could also have problems with high IQ folks who don’t listen and that is the other extreme that gets companies damaged. There are a myriad of problems these folks can create if they are one person bands and don’t have the right leadership orientation.
My experience in executive positions is that the best leaders create a performance oriented environment in which people can achieve results and enjoy success. These leaders have both high expectations of their people, believe in them and set high standards. They first of all make sure everyone on their team fits. Their people know they can rely on their boss for support even if they make an error- as long as it is not a mission critical error or involves unethical conduct. It is an environment where if things go wrong, the focus is on fixing it without blame and then assess how to ensure things don’t get wrong again. In these organizations the people know that if they do their jobs well they will be there. They don’t go home at night worrying if the boss likes their work – they know. I have always made it clear to my direct reports that they will know exactly where they stand and what I am thinking as I will tell them. I am not going home losing sleep. There is an emphasis placed on developing people with challenging assignments and giving them credit for their work. At the same time, expectations and standards cannot be compromised just so that we all get along.
I also believe that these organizations work best when people get credit for their contributions. The best organizations and leaders are concerned for the career and personal well being of their people. They don’t harm human capital by ridiculous work hours just because they can. They work long and hard when needed and get breaks as good leaders are good stewards who don’t want staff being taken out in ambulances or quitting on them as the work is too stressful and their families are suffering. And a most important ingredient – have some laughs and some fun while doing it- especially if you have to pull off some late nights and a weekend to achieve milestones.
The risk with EQ versus IQ is that we will start filling key positions with nice people who do little but work well with others. I am certainly not suggesting hiring a bunch of nasty people.