People generally believe that persons with high intelligence quotient (IQ) are bound to make it big in life. That is why we lay so much stress on academic success. Parents strive to ensure that their children score highest possible marks in tests and exams. The fascination for fancy marks often puts immense pressure on students. Unable to cope with the expectations of family and peers many youngsters burn out early in life and lose interest in studies.
With educational competition getting fiercer by the day, young people find it more and more difficult to first get admissions in the institutions or courses of choice and later jobs they aspire for. It is indeed painful to find that, unable to face the pressure, many youth even commit suicide. Yet our IQ-focused education and exam system continues as ever.
On the other hand, I and many of my industrialist friends, who have been recruiting and employing young managers over the decades, have detected the fallacy in the IQ-centric exams and recruitment.
In fact, there is no dearth of successful professionals and businessmen who have made it to the top without having topped academic tests and exams. Are we not aware of the likes of college dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and not so academically brilliant business tycoons like Warren Buffett, Indian Warren Buffett Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Dhirubhai Ambani, Jack Ma of Alibaba fame and scores of start-up entrepreneurs around the globe who have made their mark in business without having scored great marks in school or college? On the contrary, those employed by these mega achievers are often really brainy people whose mark-sheets are their worth in gold.
It is, therefore, obvious that there is something more than mere intelligence or IQ that ensures unprecedented growth and rise of individuals. What is that missing ingredient which makes the difference between professional managers and creators of massive wealth and employment?
It is emotional intelligence, generally termed as emotional quotient (EQ) in management parlance.
According to Salovey & Mayer (1999), “Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions; to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought; to understand emotions and emotional knowledge; and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.” This can be accepted as a fairly scientific definition.
Though the precise benefits of EQ have made it to the academic world relatively recently, business tycoons with insight in human behaviour have understood and realised their significance forever. They knew that the heart often rules over the head and makes people extra productive. In fact, one has witnessed emotions playing the driving force over millennia in fields as diverse as global exploration, trade, commerce, management, science and technology, war, geo-politics, etc.
When we talk of EQ today, we evaluate its use to increase employee engagement, improve the bottom line and promote teamwork. EQ has been found effective on all fronts.
Industry reports inform how in a six-month leadership development process at Komatsu Multinational Corporation, using the Six Seconds’ Vital Signs framework, engagement increased from 33 to 70% while plant performance also increased by 9.4%. Kabushiki-gaisha Komatsu Seisakusho manufactures construction, mining, and military equipment, as well as industrial equipment like press machines, lasers and thermoelectric generators. In 2012 Komatsu partnered with Six Seconds to increase the engagement of people in order to build competitive capability and create a case demonstrating their commitment for innovation. The project blended assessments, training, and project based learning to involve managers in creating a climate for innovation.
According to much chronicled industry data, this innovative approach to engaging employees led to three key findings:
Create change by letting people change. Involving the managers in a new way of thinking and working, provided them with insights and tools to experiment with alternatives.
Build teams intelligently. Powerful, innovative teams have a mix of styles, talents, EQ skills, and capabilities.
Create choice. When people self-select, they have power. They become more committed to the process, and they feel ownership of the results.
The project blended assessments, training and project based learning to involve managers in creating a climate for innovation.
People engagement was measured with Team Vital Signs (TVS), a statistically reliable research process designed to pinpoint areas assisting and interfering with growth and bottom-line success. There are five key drivers in the Vital Signs Model: trust, motivation, change, teamwork and execution.
A high performing team climate is driven by these five factors:
Trust: People have a sense of safety and assurance so they’ll take risks, share, innovate, and go beyond their own comfort zones.
Motivation: People need to feel energized and committed to doing more than the minimum requirement.
Change: Employees and the institution are adaptable and innovative.
Teamwork: People collaborate and communicate with one another to take on the challenges.
Execution: Individuals are both focused and accountable.
The experience gained by Six Seconds, a global network supporting people to create positive change everywhere, shows that the skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are invaluable for leading change
The changes are there for all to see. The US Air Force spent $ 10,000 on EQ competence and saved $ 2,760,000 in recruitment, documents Fastcompany in ‘How do you feel’, June 2000.
According to Boyatzis (1999), consulting partners who showed high EQ earned 139 % more than partners with lower EQ.
Management researchers Pesuric & Byhan wrote in 1996 that raised EQ levels cut accidents in a manufacturing plant by 50%, formal grievances by 80% and raised the top line by $ 250,000.
Does all this mean that intelligence has no place in business? Harvard Business Review clarifies the issue: “The most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant, they do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. But research shows clearly that without emotional intelligence a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”
Businesses are fast realising that to grow rapidly and tackle challenges, they need leaders and not mere managers. It is often said that leaders are born, not trained. But advances in management education and in-house training have shown that leadership skills can be imparted and imbibed.
To accomplish this objective, promoters and top management need to display emotional intelligence first by displaying a large heart and offering suitable opportunities to their young and middle rung executives to utilise EQ more often. This will lead to creation of internal capacity and EQ will become a part of the company’s business ethos.
Basant Chaudhary is a Poet, Writer, The Chairman of BLC and Basant Chaudhary Foundation. (firstname.lastname@example.org)