Leadership is all about balance. The balance between your EQ and IQ, that is. When I began researching for my book, Pound On!!, I was very interested in the idea of leaders using their EQ to build stronger relationships with their teams through trust, vulnerability and authenticity. And, in my reading, I often found that these so-called “soft skills” were some of the hardest to develop.
IQ and Leadership
IQ typically refers to your hard skills- the training, the experience, the education. It’s why you are chosen for a particularly technical job or assignment that can only be done by someone who knows how to build a bridge, run a plant, do a scientific experiment, prepare a case for trial, or fill in the tax returns for a complex business.
These traits are specifically related to your abilities or aptitudes to perform a task. With good IQ skills, you should be able to “take charge” of a given professional situation. IQ can often be a learned behavior. It’s the culmination of learning and being inquisitive in your field. Those who truly want to improve their IQ to advance their leadership can find the tools and resources to make it happen.
EQ and Leadership
As I mentioned above, EQ is what might previously have been referred to as “soft skills” or people, emotional skills. Traits of someone with a high EQ would be empathy, compassion, understanding, good ability to listen – a true caring nature.
Some EQ skills can be taught, while others are innate. EQ skills are especially helpful in allowing a leader to “take care” as well as “take charge”.
Especially in the current climate, a strong understanding of and reliance on EQ skills is key. People are juggling a lot and great leaders are empathetic and understanding in finding ways to create solutions that support their teams.
EQ can be harder to teach. Often times, these soft skills are developed in early childhood. It can be very hard to teach empathy and understanding. Not to say it can’t be done, but it certainly takes a lot of “heart work”, as some call it.
What Makes a Great Leader?
A great leader has a combination of both high IQ and high EQ skills.
It’s essential to be able to do the job, run the business, win the trial, do the scientific experiment, run the store or run the farm. However, you must be able to bring the team along with you to succeed. We don’t do anything alone, it takes a village.
Great leaders reach the hearts and minds of their people so that they will go above and beyond to get the job done in an excellent way. Your team needs to know you care about them as much as you care about your results. They will move heaven and earth for you if you show them your authentic, empathetic, caring self.
Examples of Leadership Among Us
Leaders can be found in all walks of life. There are many examples of women who are able to strike a balance between EQ and IQ skills to establish themselves as trusted leaders in their respective fields. Here are a few that come to mind.
Nancy Pelosi is a real trailblazer as the first woman Speaker of the House. She has a balanced life with a husband, 5 children and 9 grandchildren. She is truly amazing. Dedicated, loyal, and empathetic, she is always able to put herself in the shoes of others.
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, always makes her positions clear, and forges strong relationships with other world leaders. She knows how to get things done, and drives change on the world stage.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors succeeds by building strong teams, facing storms in front of the media, and always appears to be genuine and authentic in a crisis.
Michelle Obama set a clear strategy for improving the nutrition of American children while she was First Lady, rolled it out in spite of opposition from the food industry, and stood by it. She forges strong teams, and clearly states her objectives, even under fire. Through it all, she raised her family with strong values and even brought her mother to the white house to live with her!
Jane Fonda has shown that as a climate change activist she can lead Americans to use their voice with her “Fire Drill Fridays” leading in civil disobedience to try to effect changes in law and policy.
Lady Gaga leads through her social advocacy as well, garnering support for her foundation: Born This Way, which supports the goal of creating a kinder, more compassionate and inclusive world. She’s a strong supporter of mental health, especially in the arts community and uses her platform of IQ and hard skills to support and help those with mental health issues by putting herself in others’ shoes, i.e. EQ.
Assessing Your EQ and IQ Skills
So, where do you stack up? Do you think you rely more on your EQ or IQ skillset in your day-to-day work?
I wondered the same thing about many of my peers I interacted with over the years, which sparked the idea for the development of the Rotenberg Axis as a tool to help women reach “Absolutely Alpha” status.
When I talk about Alphas and success, we all want to know where we are on our journey, and what we need to do to improve. The Rotenberg Axis provides a set of parameters for expected traits, and some tips for improving and attaining the next level of Alpha.
IQ rises with greater subject matter agility, determination, ambition, curiosity and intelligence for example. When you reference the Rotenberg Axis you may see characteristics like articulate, assertive, and confident.
EQ was included because success is not just about being able to do the job. How you treat people and understand and relate to them really matters. Great leaders accomplish things in a way that doesn’t hurt people and manage teams and stakeholders effectively and with humanity.
Ready to level up?
The Alpha Scoring Guide gives you access to the Rotenberg Axis as a way to benchmark your leadership and Alpha journeys. it’s important to be tangible and practical when offering career guidance, so I have included actionable steps to help you progress your journey in practical, tangible, attainable terms.
Bonus Tip: Improving your EQ Score
We all have to work to be a little more empathic and humble. When working to improve my EQ score, I try to ask for feedback. A lot. It helps me listen, understand other ways of thinking, and put myself in other people’s shoes. It’s important to me to practice what I preach!
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