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It’s not about IQ, it’s about EI

Blair McPherson - Former Director, Author and Blogger

I don’t like the expression Emotional Intelligence (EI). It makes be feel a bit inadequate. It seems a rather vague reason for rejecting some one for a senior post. I have never been comfortable with IQ tests deciding people’s future on minor differences on a scale that measures what? The ability to do IQ tests? So maybe it’s the fact that EI is so often presented as the other side of the IQ coin that makes me sceptical.

It doesn’t help that references to EI are so overused in the recruitment process and have become a short hand for modern leadership qualities. If what an organisation seeks is to recruit someone who has insight into their own behaviour and how it effects others, someone who excels in building relationships, some one who is mature enough to recognise that dissent and criticism are not evidence of personal disloyalty, then they should say so.

I think the expression has lost meaning and clarity due to over use. Management consultants and recruitment firms drop it into conversation as do HR colleagues as if every one agrees that it’s an essential for a leader. But then the actual recruitment panel revert to classic/old school leadership qualities like charisma, charm, determination and over confidence. Someone who imposes their will through sheer force of personality , some one who takes charge and expects others to fall in line, occasional intimidating, not over concerned with others views and feelings.

Sometimes Emotional Intelligence is referred  to as the softer skills. Which I understand to be a reference to “people skills “ , that is the ability to motivate, to challenge appropriately, to encourage and develop, to be a good listener, to be able to empathise,  to be in tune with those you are responsible for and to be able to speak their language.Which in turn would make someone an effective networker and a skilled negotiator, some one who can gain people’s trust and cooperation. I would consider these skills more relevant than technical skills and harder to gain. I just don’t like referring to them as Emotional Intelligence.

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