IQ = 150, EQ= 0: Building Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Ever worked with people who had an IQ of 150 and EQ of 0?

They tend to be clueless about things like building trusting relationships, seeing the impact of their actions on others, and demonstrating empathy.

This post is for them (not us, of course)…

What is Emotional Intelligence?

“Social and emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships.” (Professor and Executive Coach, Dr. Laura Belsten)

Here’s what it DOES NOT look like…

EQ = 0 = Michael Scott of The Office + Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory + Mr. Bean

Why should I care?

For us left-brainers who may get tripped up on the words “social and emotional,” here’s the math for proving the importance and relevance of Emotional Intelligence to leaders and organizations…

IQ < EQ  

“Emotional intelligence is much more powerful than IQ in determining who emerges as a leader. IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional Intelligence can.” (Warren Bennis)

High Emotional Intelligence = Good business.

If EQ NOT= 0, then there is…

  • Less leadership derailment – Fatal flaws for executives include mostly interpersonal and communication skills. (Ed DiZazzo, building on Center for Creative Leadership research)
  • Higher employee engagement and retention – Employees join companies and leave managers [with low emotional intelligence.] (First Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman.) US Air Force reduced recruiter turnover from 35% to 5% annually be selecting candidates high in emotional intelligence.
  • Higher productivity – In an industry-wide study including AT&T, managers at all levels with high emotional intelligence accounted for 20% more productivity than low EQ leaders.
  • Higher sales and profits – Senior Partners in a multinational consulting firm with high EQ earned $1.2 million more profit annually than their peers. (Talent Smart Business Case for Emotional Intelligence, page 4.)

How can you improve Emotional Intelligence?

If all this makes sense intellectually to you, then you’re ready for the hard part of the soft side – actually improving beyond head knowledge. Here are some tips:

  • Take an honest inventory. Ask other people – people who will tell you straight up – how you’re doing in these skill areas.  (See this list of emotional intelligence competencies, thanks to Daniel Goleman.)
  • Ask for help. Emotional Intelligence is largely about increasing your awareness of what you don’t see about yourself and others so you can be more deliberate in how you interact.  You cannot assess yourself or improve alone – even if you have a great plan. (Find an executive coach and/or other leader who is experienced with helping people in the area you want to develop.)
  • Help others get it. Help them discover the benefits for improving for themselves. Then tell them to see step 1.
  • Repeat step 1. Commitment + ongoing focus + support = improvement.

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. He specializes in helping leaders and their teams be more successful through improving their emotional intelligence. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.