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EQ is a Better Predictor of Success Than IQ

Imagine Sarah and Mike, colleagues entangled in the high stakes of an office project. On a particularly tense day, Sarah notices Mike's unease; his usual punctuality faltered because of a missed deadline. 

Rather than jumping to conclusions, Sarah taps into her emotional intelligence. She quietly pulls Mike aside, not to reprimand, but to genuinely inquire about his wellbeing. 

It turns out, Mike's been juggling some personal challenges that have seeped into his work life. Sarah's approach doesn't magically erase Mike's problems, but it offers him a much-needed moment of understanding and support. 

Together, they brainstorm practical steps to get back on track, proving that empathy in the workplace can transform stress into solutions.


  1. Emotional intelligence often surpasses IQ in predicting success
  2. Empathy can turn workplace stress into collaborative solutions
  3. High EQ leaders can significantly enhance team engagement and productivity
  4. Leaders with high EQ enable teams to thrive even in challenging times
  5. Unlike the relatively fixed nature of IQ, EQ can be developed and improved

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A, B, C, D…EQ?

EQ is a more accurate predictor of success than technical skills or IQ, according to research (Feist & Barron, 1996). But what is EQ? 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is about recognising your own emotions and understanding others' feelings.

It's like being in tune with how you and the people around you feel, which helps in responding kindly and effectively in different situations, leading to better teamwork, friendships and connections. 

So What Is "Smart"?

"Smart" traditionally meant having a high IQ – being book-smart, quick at learning, or good at problem-solving. But there's more to intelligence. 

Enter EQ or Emotional Intelligence. 

It's about being 'people-smart' and emotionally equipped. EQ involves understanding your emotions, managing them well, and recognising and responding to others' feelings. It's about empathy, social skills, and self-awareness. 

Unlike IQ, which is primarily static, you can develop and improve your EQ over time. In real life, EQ often trumps IQ in leadership, relationships, and personal wellbeing. It's about being smart with feelings – yours and others. 

That's the essence of EQ.

The Future is Challenging Conventional Wisdom

The rise of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) challenges long-held beliefs about success. 

For instance, one study focused on the effects of emotional intelligence on productivity, exploring how noncognitive skills, which include aspects of EQ such as self-awareness, empathy, and social skills, can impact an individual's efficiency at work​​.

Research supports the idea that individuals with high emotional intelligence (EQ) often excel beyond those with high IQ, especially in leadership and team dynamics. For example, leaders with high EQ are found to be more effective because they can connect empathetically with employees, enhancing engagement and productivity.

This emotional connection influences work situations, including handling change, conflict, and team collaboration, leading to better performance outcomes. 

Empathetic leadership, which is closely aligned to emotional intelligence, involves understanding others' needs, feelings, and thoughts. CCL’s study shows that today's effective leaders must be more “person-focused” and able to collaborate with people from different teams, departments, nations, cultures, and backgrounds.

CCL examined data from 6,731 mid- to upper-middle-level managers in 38 countries to investigate if empathy affects work performance. They found that workplace empathy improves job performance.

Backed by Science

Emotional intelligence is not an inherent trait but rather a skill that can be developed and improved through targeted interventions. As research by Gilar-Corbi R, Pozo-Rico T, Sánchez B, Castejón JL (2019) indicates, “Emotional intelligence…can be improved after training.” The study’s results revealed that EI can be improved within business environments.

This includes training programs designed to enhance an individual's EQ skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. The successful implementation of these programs has been shown to have a positive effect on job performance and productivity, indicating that investing in EQ development can yield significant returns for organisations​​.

If you're a manager, business owner or team leader, you might be interested in these corporate workshops we offer:

EQ in the Workplace?

Picture this: You're on the brink of delivering a major presentation, and there's a swarm of butterflies wreaking havoc in your stomach. Instead of spiralling into panic, you acknowledge these jitters for what they are—common pre-show nerves.

With a couple of strategic deep breaths to ground yourself and a light-hearted exchange with a coworker about the absurdity of the situation, you harness your emotional intelligence to stay composed.

This moment of self-recognition and point of connection doesn't just diffuse the tension; it steadies your nerves, empowering you to deliver the presentation confidently.

Two Essential Factors in Emotional Intelligence 

How does the anecdote above reflect EQ? Well, in two primary ways. Through self-awareness and self-regulation. These are two key components of EQ:

  • Self-Awareness: Recognising the "butterflies in your stomach" as nerves or anxiety before a big presentation is an act of self-awareness. It's about understanding your own emotions and acknowledging how they might affect your behaviour and performance. In this case, the awareness that the nervous feeling is a natural response to a high-pressure situation allows for a more rational approach to managing those feelings.
  • Self-Regulation: Taking deep breaths and sharing a laugh with a colleague instead of panicking is an example of self-regulation. It involves healthily managing your emotions, rather than letting them control you. By deciding to calm yourself and inject a bit of humour into the situation, you're actively choosing a positive response to your anxiety, which can help maintain your composure and focus.

Recognising one's emotions and effectively managing them, especially in stressful situations, is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. This can translate to better performance under pressure, improved communication with colleagues, and an overall more positive work environment.

3 Tips for Leading With Emotional Intelligence 

Raising your EQ can help you be a more empathic person and motivate your coworkers to be more invested in their work. You may improve your leadership abilities and emotional intelligence by following these steps.

1. First, listen attentively without passing judgment. The first step is developing your ability to listen and empathise with others actively. Maintaining an open mind and actively listening to other's points of view can go a long way towards fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to speak their minds and where they can thrive professionally.

Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and feel what they feel. Focus on the feelings and ideals that underlie the facts while you listen. To make someone believe that their ideals and emotions are truly understood, express that you understand how they are feeling.

2. Establish a personal connection with your team. One way to lead with emotional intelligence is to show that you care about your employees on a personal level by being willing to support them and recognise their efforts. When leaders genuinely care about their staff, it fosters trust between them.

Empathy has long been disregarded as a measure of success because it is a soft skill. On the other hand, research shows that modern leaders who thrive in the workplace are more "person-focused" and compassionate, which helps them collaborate well with colleagues from diverse departments, nationalities, and culture.

3. Discover hidden ways to motivate your team - beyond salary and bonuses. We recognise that remuneration and benefits are critical but not the sole factors influencing employee engagement and productivity. These advantages are just one component of a much bigger incentive package.

In most cases, all it takes to find out what drives your staff is to ask them—and then listen carefully to what they have to say. Improving engagement, motivation, job satisfaction, and retention can be achieved by gaining a better understanding of your employees' motives.

Learn as much as you can about yourself and the people around you. To lead with emotional intelligence, managers must tap into their employees' varied backgrounds and perspectives to motivate them to reach their maximum potential.

Understanding your employees on a deeper level is challenging for any leader, regardless of their EQ or leadership performance. It's not easy to put yourself in someone else's shoes and listen to other points of view without passing judgment.

Acquiring these abilities requires self-awareness, a readiness to learn, and an awareness of how your identity influences your leadership style. A leader's ability to be effective is either limited or enhanced by their self-knowledge, their understanding of how others see them, and their skill in handling the relationships that ensue.

Final Thoughts

The evidence is clear: EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, often trumps IQ in predicting success. 

It's not just about being innovative in the traditional sense; it's about understanding and managing emotions, both yours and others. 

Developing EQ can lead to better communication, stronger relationships, and improved decision-making. It's about being aware of your feelings, empathising with others, and handling interpersonal dynamics skillfully. 

By nurturing these emotional skills, you can enhance your ability to navigate life's challenges more effectively, making EQ development an essential goal for anyone seeking to thrive today.

Elevate your team's performance with MiTraining's corporate workshops, designed to harness the challenges your staff face into growth opportunities. Our interactive, in-person workshops, available across Australia, are tailored to enhance your team's skills in areas like communication, leadership, and stress management.

With over 15 years of experience, our professional trainers align with your business values to deliver engaging and impactful learning experiences. Choose MiTraining for cost-effective, flexible training solutions that promise to improve workplace culture, staff retention, and customer service.

Discover more and book a discovery call with us today.

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