Ask GovLoop – What is EQ?

Ever since the 1995 release of Daniel Goleman’s much-noticed book on emotional intelligence, the issue has been a hot topic and the subject of growing research. Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ, is the ability to recognize and manage our emotions and the emotions of others. While IQ and technical competence are usually necessary for leadership effectiveness, they alone are often not enough. Research has found that executives and managers who fail in their leadership positions often do so not because of the lack of cognitive ability or technical competence, but the lack of EQ.

EQ is often expressed in five dimensions:

— Self-awareness: Being aware of what you are feeling.
— Self-management: The ability to manage your own emotions and impulses.
— Self-motivation: The ability to persist in the face of setbacks and failures.
— Empathy: The ability to sense and understand how others are feeling.
— Social skills: The ability to handle the emotions of others and manage relationships.

Several studies appear to show that EQ plays an important role in job performance and leadership effectiveness. For example, a study at Lucent Technologies found that engineers who were rated as high performers by their peers were found to be better at relating to others. Thus, it was EQ rather than IQ that differentiated these star performers.

Here’s good news: While IQ remains fairly constant throughout our lives, we can continue to develop our EQ as we learn from new experiences.

How important do you think EQ is in determining leadership effectiveness?

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Marie Crandell

This is really interesting. I have been playing with a theory of my own over the last few months, that there is a 3rd dimension, which for want of a better name I have called CQ – Collective Community Quotient, and it is this that defines the very best leaders. CQ is where one demonstrates their ability to use their IQ and EQ – regardless of what level these are at – for the benefit of the community they function in. Using the argument that the whole is greater than the sum of all parts, CQ is using one’s IQ and EQ to work together in harmony.

For example, an intelligent Manager well versed in EQ may use their skills in this area to encourage team members to perform a particular role, or to view them in a particular light, which coudl lead to said Manager’s promotion. I.e., EQ and IQ can be used to self serve as much as any other tool or skill. CQ measures how a person uses what they have, what they have learnt, and what they are blessed with, to contribute the greatest they can to their team, community, family, etc., for the benefit of the many not the one.

I have only had this theory for a few months, so I have yet to work out a way to measure this 🙂

How important is EQ? As you said, we have far more control over our EQ levels that our IQ levels, and yes EQ is important, I guess I am therefore saying that CQ is the most important for effective leadership, because it illustrates our willingness to work for the common good.

Cindy Lou Baker

Scott, I appreciate your posting of this info as we all can use a little more practice in this area. I printed up a few of your statements and posted them for our Job Corps students, who take classes in Social Skills but have not been shown that they are the ones in control of their EQ. Hope you don’t mind. cb

John Peppard

Self Awareness is the hot characteristic in leadership and the starting point. Know yourself and manage yourself… manage your strengths!

Hmmm – CQ. Some people work well in a team/group, some don’t. Where do you fit? If you know this about yourself, or if you have staff whom your responsible for… placement of staff against work requirements seems to work better.


K. Scott Derrick

John: Thank you for adding to the discussion. Yeah, I think many people would probably agree that self-awareness is indeed the starting point. Over the years, I’ve seen various graphs and grids depicting the various dimensions of EQ, and they often show self-awareness as “home” with arrows pointing to other EQ dimensions. Thanks again..