About 5 years ago I attended a presentation at the University of Toronto given by Steven Stein, CEO of the largest Canadian publisher of psychological tests.  The topic was ‘emotional intelligence’ and the question being pondered was none other than:

Why do some people with high IQs struggle in their career while others with moderate IQs succeed?

This topic is still very relevant and interesting today.  The answer of course is emotional intelligence which is measured by EQ.  EQ is distinct from IQ as well as aptitude, ability, and personality.  It consists of noncognitive capabilities that influence a person’s ability to cope with environmental stressors.  The measurement tool Dr. Stein was discussing contained ‘subscales’ such as ‘Emotional Self Awareness’, ‘Assertiveness’, ‘Interpersonal Relations’, ‘Empathy’, ‘Stress Tolerance’, and many others.  EQ strength areas are influenced by gender and a person’s EQ tends to rise over time as they gain life experience.

What does this mean to job seekers and leaders alike?

A few things:

  • Firstly, the ‘smartest’ person in the room is not necessarily the best leader.  Good leaders surround themselves with talented staff.
  • It sometimes pays to put off a good thing to get a better one as evidenced by the ‘marshmallow test’.  Those kids who showed impulse control and did not eat the marshmallow they were offered were more successful in the future and made better employees.
  • Successful leaders are adaptable.  Did Bill Gates really say the Internet is just a fad and then change course?
  • The most successful leaders are self aware (know their strengths/weaknesses), independent, have a high stress tolerance, decisive, and assertive vs. passive or aggressive.
  • Top performing leaders also score high in empathy.
  • Not all jobs require the same EQ strength areas so it is important to think about what your specific occupation requires to succeed.  For example, the most successful collection agents have often scored low on empathy scales.


Thanks for reading.