A few years ago, I took a comprehensive psychometric assessment that measures emotional intelligence and how it impacts people and the workplace.
And learned -- okay, confirmed -- that I kinda need to get my emotional intelligence (stuff) together.
Which was kind of a bummer.
As Inc. colleague Justin Bariso shows in a steady stream of outstanding articles, high emotional intelligence can lead to better performance, better pay, and greater overall success. High emotional intelligence can improve your professional and personal relationships. High emotional intelligence help you better handle disagreements, differences of opinion, and arguments.
To do that, they gave hundreds of salespeople emotional intelligence tests designed to measure their ability to perceive, understand, and regulate emotions. (Three of the main pillars of emotional integelligence.)
They then gave each participant a cognitive ability test designed to measure their ability to reason and solve word, logic, and math problems.
Which turned out to be the key driver of sales? Cognitive ability.
Those with high cognitive ability generated more than $195,000 in annual revenue. Those with moderate cognitive ability generated $159,000. And those with low cognitive ability only generated $109,000.
As Captain Obvious might point out, smarter salespeople tend to perform better than less smart salespeople.
And then there's this: Emotional intelligence had almost no impact on results. People with high emotional intelligence and low cognitive ability didn't perform better than those with low emotional intelligence and low cognitive ability.
As Grant writes, "Cognitive ability was more than five times more powerful than emotional intelligence."
And then there's also this: A 2010 review of dozens of studies of thousands of employees across 191 different jobs found that cognitive ability accounted for over 14 percent of job performance... yet emotional intelligence only accounted for 1 percent.
If you're an EQ fan, that's a definite "Ugh."
Depending, at least a little, on the nature of the work you do.
As Grant writes, emotional intelligence takes on greater importance in jobs where dealing with emotions is more prevalent: Counseling. Customer service. Some -- but certainly not all -- aspects of leadership.
But if your work primarily involves coding, or planning, or analysis, or a broad range of technical skills, high emotional intelligence isn't particularly helpful. (In fact, Grant says in those cases "paying attention to emotions might distract you from working efficiently and effectively.")
In those instances, cognitive ability matters a lot more.
And even to a great degree in more emotionally demanding work, where cognitive ability still proves to have greater performance consequences than emotional intelligence.
Finally, there's this. If you have high cognitive ability and low emotional intelligence, that's (temporarily) okay: Your ability to learn -- since, ultimately, that's what cognitive ability is -- can help you improve your emotional intelligence.
If you have low cognitive ability, improving your emotional intelligence will be much harder.
Which, as Grant points out, is one of the reasons -- counter to conventional wisdom -- that research shows emotional intelligence and cognitive ability are positively, not negatively, correlated.
Yep: You really can be intelligent intelligent and emotionally intelligent.
When you make hiring or promotion decisions, certainly take emotional intelligence into account. But only to a small degree, and especially if high emotional intelligence is truly a factor and drives job performance.
Hire or promote the coder with bettter skills. Hire or promote the craftsperson with better skills. Hire the engineer, or data miner, or project manager with better skills. Smarter, better skilled matters more than emotional intelligence.
Especially since you will be more easily able to help smart people increase their emotional intelligence.
Which, while I'm not particularly smart... is still good news for me.