Being Smart Enough isn’t Good Enough


A couple weeks ago, my boss forwarded his team an article titled “Intelligence is Overrated: What you Really Need to Succeed.” The gist is that there is research which shows that our technical knowledge and ability to reason are not the prevalent factors behind our success. While IQ is certainly important, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence) , and BQ (Body Intelligence) have dominance over our reasoning capacity. You may not be familiar with each of these, I wasn’t. While I’d heard of EQ, which is emotional intelligence, I hadn’t heard the other terms used. I’ve actually blogged about what amounts to EQ before in Self Awareness and Regulation.  I made the case that knowing your strengths and regulating how you fit into interactions has an impact in how people perceive you.  While the concepts of MQ and BQ are familiar, I’d never spent much time dwelling on them individually.  Let’s take a look at MQ this week.

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The article states that MQ follows IQ and deals with our “integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness.” Where I think MQ differs from EQ is that EQ makes sure you’re heard appropriately and MQ ensures that people like what they hear. In general, people tend to like others who exhibit integrity and understanding. There is a mirroring effect in this regard. Stretch the truth and people won’t trust you. Miss commitments and you show you can’t be relied upon. Criticize excessively or with malice and you certainly aren’t going to be sought for your opinion. In the above-mentioned blog, I went so far as to say it’s okay to challenge people if it’s in the right context and if it’s for the right reason. You can still maintain your integrity and even gain respect if you show what you’re doing is not just justifiable, but to the other person’s benefit.
Last week’s post regarded your digital self being a reflection of your true self. All your communications add up to a persona and that persona equates to the value people see in you. In much of today’s world, your network is a critical part of what you bring to work each day. When I need to call someone for help, I tend to lean towards people who listen to what I’m saying and give me an honest, straightforward opinion in a way that isn’t biased and doesn’t judge me. It certainly helps if they know what they’re talking about, but that’s table stakes when I pick up the phone. Who I actually dial needs to have a high EQ and MQ as well. On the flip side, people also need to know that I’m not going to waste their time and that I’ll give them the same quid pro quo. I think we have all seen That Guy who abuses email, steers conversations the wrong way, mouths off on social medial, and the like. That person’s outreach often doesn’t see the same quality or quantity of responses that others having high EQ and MQ do.

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My job puts me in contact with a large number of people inside my company as well as with partners, customers, and prospects. Time and time again, I’ve seen people with high EQs and MQs succeed even if their IQ doesn’t set them apart. I’ve also seen plenty of cases where someone may be truly sharp but come across as a know-it-all or just more detrimental to group chemistry than they’re worth. Situational awareness and reliability have a huge impact in how you get ahead. Self confidence in how you project these aspects does as well. Remember, how people treat you is generally a reflection of how you treat them and how you present yourself.
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4 thoughts on “Being Smart Enough isn’t Good Enough

  1. That’s a good article, and timely, I’m sharing it with my teenage sons, both of whom need to work on the EQ/MQ. In the US, boys are often taught to suppress emotions. While this is useful at times, it is best if you can master your emotions. Identify them when they occur and understand how to deal with them–suppression being just one tactic.

  2. Thanks, Tenbroek. Please let me know how it goes. I’ve got my older son (a teenager) reading my blog but we haven’t talked about it all that much. People skills aren’t something most of us are born with. Developing them can really differentiate you throughout life.

    My brother and I are having dinner with our dad tomorrow and need to discuss a couple things. It’s a little touchy and we’ll definitely need to convey some EQ/MQ.

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