Emotional Intelligence Out Weighs IQ At Work

Discussions about Emotional Intelligence and its impact on the success of a career first surfaced in the 1990s.  Daniel Golemanconcluded researching his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence that 67% of all abilities associated with strong job performance were related to emotional intelligence.

Since Goleman’s provocative findings, there has been mounting evidence of the impact of emotional intelligence on the success of a career.  The results of different research studies vary slightly, but the overwhelming conclusion is that EQ is the most critical factor in determining career success.

Based on several recent studies, experts believe a successful career is determined by:

  • 25% general intelligence (IQ)
  • 10% – 20% technical competency
  • 55% – 65% emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional Intelligence is fundamental to successfully developing soft skills, which employers are actively seeking today.

So, what is emotional intelligence?  EQ is the ability to be aware of, control, and express emotions and handle relationships empathetically.  With high EQ, we can recognize and control our own emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence helps us identify our preferences in decision-making, successfully pursue goals, and persuade others for or against an idea.

The elements of EQ include self-awareness, self-management, social skills, relationship management, and empathy.  Individuals with high EQ often seek feedback from others on these elements.  They then self-evaluate to determine their strengths and opportunities for improvement.  With this deeper self-knowledge, high EQ individuals experience:

  • Greater confidence
  • Heightened creativity
  • Sounder decision-making
  • Stronger relationships
  • Effective communication

Like technical expertise, we must deeply study to develop strong emotional intelligence.  The learning starts with a commitment to self-reflection to honestly view our current behaviors, our impact on others, and the need to make changes.

How would you assess your EQ?

  • Self-Awareness: How do you show up for work?  Positive, optimistic, pessimistic, team, or self-focused?  Would your colleagues agree with your self-assessment?
  • Self-Management: Do you factually debate an opinion without getting emotionally charged? Can you separate your ego from your intellect?
  • Social Skills: How well do you relate to your co-workers? Have you gotten to know your co-workers on a personal level so you understand the facts that might be shaping their opinions?
  • Relationship Management: Are you investing adequate time to build collaborative and productive work relationships?
  • Empathy:  Can you quickly interpret your co-workers’ moods?  Do you easily know what they might need from you?

After a first read, the answers to these questions may seem simple, with a high probability of positive responses.  But with deeper thought, many individuals often realize they behave or use language that is misinterpreted by their colleagues.  By strengthening our emotional intelligence, we can avoid creating unknown barriers to our career growth.


1Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half, with more than 5,000,000 copies in print worldwide in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries.