by Ron Potter

From the time we were little, we became aware of IQ.  I first remember becoming aware of it in about the sixth grade.  That means I was ten or eleven.

And right from the start, it became a competition.  If I had a higher IQ than you did, I was headed for greater success in my life.

IQ and Success

However, no correlation has ever been found between IQ and success.  Some with high IQ’s experience no success.  Others with moderate or even below average IQ’s experience high levels of success.  No correlation has ever been found!

So why do we place so much emphasis on IQ?

  • Because there’s a test!
  • It’s easy to measure.
  • It’s easy to demonstrate.
  • It’s easy for others to spot.

All of these can point toward high IQ.  None of them will guarantee success.


On the other hand, EQ (Emotional Quotient) has been demonstrated as being completely correlated with success.

So if there is so much correlation with EQ and none with IQ, why don’t we hear more about EQ?

  • It’s the “soft” skill.
  • It’s difficult or even impossible to measure.
  • It’s easy to demonstrate.
  • It’s easy for others to spot.

Notice that the last two are the same as IQ.  They’re both easy to demonstrate and spot.

EQ is hard to measure but it’s easy to spot.  The question is, how does it look different than IQ?

Let’s take a look at what are considered the elements of EQ.

One of the early books was written by Daniel Goleman titled Emotional Intelligence.  Since that initial book, written in 2009, something approaching thirty books have been written on the subject.

Let’s take a quick look at the elements identified in that initial book.

  • Self Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

Self Awareness

The ability to know one’s emotions: strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.

This element of self-awareness is listed first among the five.  I believe it gets that rank because of it’s dependency on many of the other elements and requires the trait of humility which is listed as the first element of great leadership in my book “Trust Me”.

Strengths and weaknesses are also dependent on feedback from others.  The Johari Window describes this map.  Your strengths and weaknesses usually fall in “The Blind Self” window.  This window contains things you don’t know about yourself but others do know about you.  The only way to “open” that window is to ask for, listen to, and honestly process feedback from others.

Self Regulation

Involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.

What are the disruptive emotions?  Let’s start with the ancient “Seven Deadly Sins”.  Broadly speaking, the seven deadly sins function as ethical guidelines.  The seven deadly sins include:

Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth

It may be better to think about the counter to each of those words

  • Humility – Pride
  • Kindness – Envy
  • Temperance – Gluttony
  • Chastity – Lust
  • Patience – Anger
  • Charity – Greed
  • Diligence – Sloth


Being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.

Many people make it to the top of the organization because they are hyper-competitive.  Being motivated towards a great goal appeals to people much more than being competitive or beating someone.

I worked with a sales manager that may have been the most competitive person I ever met.  He won everything!  At first, the corporation thought this guy was superman.  But then the clients started to leave and go elsewhere.  When I talked with the clients they said, “This guy has a need to win everything.  We may have just given in to the greatest of demands but that’s not enough for him.  He has to win even the smallest of issues!  We’re going elsewhere.  He has destroyed our relationship.”


Considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions.

There’s a scene in the movie “You’ve got mail” between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  Tom Hanks’s character owns a large bookstore and he’s just put Meg Ryan’s character out of business at her small, neighborhood bookstore.  When Meg finds out who he is, she goes ballistic.  In the middle of the rant, Tom moves back a few steps, puts up his hands, and says “It was only business.”  What he’s saying here is that business is by the numbers only.  It’s never about emotions.  Wrong!

Every time I’ve coached a leadership team to consider the emotions involved in a decision, not just the numbers, they’ve made a better decision.  Empathy is good for business.

Social Skills

Managing relationships to move people in the desired direction.

This is not about manipulation.  The human mind can detect manipulation quickly.  This is about getting buy-in.  This is about people wanting to go to the destination that you’re talking about.  People don’t buy ideas or concepts based on logic.  They buy things based on emotion.  They justify the purchase based on logic.

Years ago we were purchasing a small basic car for my wife for local transportation.  While they were bringing a car to the front for her to look at, the salesperson and I were drooling over a corvette in the showroom.  My wife finally said “I see no logical reason to buy a corvette.  After a few seconds of blank stares, we both said “What’s your point.  NO ONE buys a corvette for logical reasons.  They’re all purchased based on emotions!”

Marketing people learned this a long time ago.   Our purchases are based on emotions, not logic.  Even ideas.  We don’t buy into an idea unless it captures us emotionally.

EQ vs IQ

To improve your IQ, read.  To improve your EQ, build relationships, know who you are, where you’re going, and get people emotionally excited to join you in your journey.


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