Between Emotional Intelligence and Intelligence Quotient

Below is a summary of some core ideas in the best selling book by Harvard Business Review Press.

“What distinguishes good leaders from great ones?” asks Daniel Goldman, “it isn’t IQ or technical skills but emotional intelligence.” Many of us are familiar with someone who was highly skilled and good at their job but couldn’t progress beyond their current position or probably got promoted to a leadership position and proceeded to fail at it.

Inversely, we also know the case of that one person who wasn’t as capable technically but somehow got promoted and excelled at a leadership position.

How is this possible?

Well, it turns out that after a certain threshold of capability i.e., a minimal ability to get the job done, what starts to matter more in career success is emotional intelligence, which is more of an art than a science that can be pinned down.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace has five main components:

1) Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s character and feelings and related to your ability to take stock of your situation, strengths, moods, motivations, drivers, etc. Self-awareness is an essential element to emotional intelligence – it’s about understanding yourself and having a deep understanding of your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. The hallmarks of a self-aware person are confidence and a realistic self-assessment. If you are self-aware, you know your particular vulnerabilities, which you can then work around rather than making-believe you are perfect.

For example, a self-aware employee who has problems with procrastination can put in place several systems to make sure his work gets done on time. Over time, this could lead to permanent improvements.

One common problem in the workplace is that people do not regularly and honestly self-access. How many times can you admit to yourself that your work is below the company’s expectations or that you lack inspiration? Have you ever recognized that you don’t know enough about a particular project to work on it or that you may be using a tool the wrong way?

2) Self-regulation

It’s one thing to be self-aware and another thing entirely to be able to regulate one’s excesses at the right time. Self-regulation is merely controlling and taming those biological impulses and habits that are not relevant in the workplace. It is solely the ability to separate your personal feelings from your job. It, however, doesn’t mean that one should stop being human.

For example, if you have been hoping to get selected for a role and then it got handed to somebody else. Self-awareness would first help you to objectively assess whether you were indeed a better candidate than whoever got the position over you. Self-regulation would then be the ability to either accept the decision as fair or discuss this at the appropriate time with your supervisor rather than protesting your perceived ‘mistreatment’ using passive or direct aggression.

Self-regulation also means correcting subordinates at work in a calm, appropriate manner even if they have made a huge mistake rather than yelling or flipping over tables. As human beings, it’s typical to want to react based on our feelings, but emotional intelligence is about being able to control those impulses when the time and place is just not right.

3) Motivation

Motivation is one trait that all leaders and star employees have in common. If you wish to be a highly functioning individual, there has to be something driving you.

You don’t have to see motivation through a single lens, it comes in different forms; it could be some noble cause like making the world a better place or impacting human lives with your work. It could also be personal like living up to your reputation for creating exceptional designs, for example, or getting promoted to the next level. It could be contributing to the company’s growth or alignment to the inspiring vision of the company you work for (like most of us here at FlexiSAF)

Whatever it is, the fact remains that people who tend to move forward are usually self-motivated. They are not dependent on external rewards or incentives to achieve perfection – yes, external rewards may help – but personal convictions instead drive high performance. This conviction also compels them to go beyond the usual job description or think creatively outside of what they are required to do. Motivated people also set goals and keep track of their performance regularly.

4) Empathy

Empathy is the component most people usually think of when they hear about ’emotional intelligence.’ Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is an awareness of another person’s situation without having to be in the same shoes or ever experiencing the same situation. Everybody loves a person who shows empathy to them. The most loved bosses and colleagues are those who understand what we are going through and seem to relate with us.

To fit in well with a team or to lead one, you have to be prepared to listen to people and share genuine relationships. Your colleagues are people, after all, – not robots.

5) Social Skill

According to, Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language, and our appearance.

Socially skilled people usually have a wide circle of acquaintances due to their ability to find common ground with people easily. These people tend to have a network in place for whenever something important needs to be done; they know nothing important gets done alone.

This doesn’t mean that introverts cannot have social skills or that you always have to socialize, rather know how to build rapport and make genuine connections is the basis for this set of skills.

Altogether, these are the five components that combine to produce an Emotionally Intelligent person, and I assure you his/her impact will be felt everywhere. Of course, technical ability is vital in your career; but without emotional intelligence, it can only take you so far and vice versa.



So, do you consider yourself Emotionally intelligent? Which one of the five components are you missing, or you haven’t fully developed just yet? How are you working on it? Tell us in the comments below!