IQ gets you hired. Emotional intelligence gets you promoted.

By Marty Jordan on February 17, 2015

I was recently coaching a leader who had the potential to do great things. I’m sure you know this type of person—smart, quick, articulate, and out to prove he is the smartest person in the room. All that was missing was a little thing called emotional intelligence. And that “little” thing was holding him back.

In our first coaching session a few months back, he described himself as being strong on accountability and had no issue calling people out on their deficiencies. Note to self…doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He told me he was very competitive and he never played team sports but did excel at shot put and discus. Note to self…didn’t learn to play well with others. When I asked about his hobbies, he told me he was into fly fishing. Note to self…prefers own company versus others. And when he talked about his team, he told me how he had whittled it down (interesting choice of words, I thought to myself) to people who could handle his public confrontation. He seemed to think that a good leader doesn’t sugarcoat the truth. Note to self…this guy leads by intimidation.

As you might guess, this was an individual who got results and he was sure it was his smarts and technical brilliance that helped him get to where he was. My challenge as a coach was to convince him that what got him here wouldn’t get him there—the promotion he wanted—without improving his emotional savvy and ability to build strong working relationships both with his team and his peers.

I remembered watching the Steve Jobs biopic awhile back and thinking, what better way to have this guy see himself in action than to watch this movie and witness the impact of Jobs’s leadership style on everyone around him. When I suggested that he watch the movie he resisted because he detested Ashton Kutcher, but eventually, he agreed, and at our next coaching session, he was a whole new person. He told me he now “got” what I was saying about technical brilliance versus emotional savvy. And I knew he was open to change when he said, “I would hate to think I drove people away like Jobs did with Wozniak.”

From that point forward he was all “ears” to my suggestions. I had him take emotional intelligence assessments so he knew exactly the behaviors he needed to stop doing and start doing. I exposed him to the concept of “balancing advocacy and inquiry” and learning to ask good questions instead of the leading questions that he said he was guilty of doing. We explored the art of “small talk” and the importance of social interaction. We also talked about the importance of just slowing down, not needing to respond in the moment, and giving himself time to think about how what he says will be received by the other person.

There were lots of strategies we talked about and experimented with over the months I coached him; however, that movie was the key to unlocking his willingness to do something different. So, if ever you find yourself needing to coach or work with someone like this, have him or her watch the Steve Jobs movie. It brought self-awareness to my coachee and created the readiness for him to be coached. It may even result in your colleague getting a promotion, just like mine did. As they say…IQ gets you hired, but EQ (i.e. emotional intelligence) gets you promoted!

So let’s hear it. Have you worked with someone like this? Are you like this? What are you doing to become more emotionally intelligent?

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Posted in Blog, Coaching Tagged with: , , ,

About Marty Jordan

Marty Jordan is an accomplished senior HR/OD professional with broad-based experience in multiple industries and has worked in diverse business functions and corporate environments.
10 comments on “IQ gets you hired. Emotional intelligence gets you promoted.
  1. Tom Duenow says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights via the “Notes to Self” sidebars. It’s instructive to see your intuition based on comments made by the coachee. I really like the creative approach you used to foster insights by having the coachee see the counter productive behaviors in action.

    • Marty Jordan says:

      Glad you found the post helpful. I’ve now used the film a number of times to put a “mirror” up to other folks I’m coaching so they can see the negative impact of their unproductive behaviors.

  2. As a matter of fact the post has helped me conduct a retrospective assessment to myself. And indeed I have seen some flaws. But I have one question. How do you make your top most boss realise his/her flaws? Especially if the boss is a person who doesn’t easily appreciate the results achieved? And always a fault finder.

    • Marty Jordan says:

      Ahh…the million dollar question. Unfortunately, the only person you can change is yourself. I know you wanted me to provide you with some sort of “magic bullet” but I’m sure you knew the answer even as you wrote the question. I encourage you to keep working on your own effectiveness and hopefully, some day soon, you will be offered a new position working for a different boss.

  3. Jenny Kremer says:

    Marty, you continue to impress me with all you do. Especially your insight into people-almost all people.

  4. Darlene says:

    Love this blog – great advice that is actionable. Thank you for your wisdom.

    • Bill Springer says:

      Thanks Darlene!

      And I hope you get to go on a whale watch this summer, wink, wink!

      Bill Springer
      Senior Content Editor

  5. Seog Joo Hwang says:

    I recently conducted 360 assessments with the key managers in my company. And one participant was just like that person in your story. Luckily, she admitted her weakness in social skills and asked me some advice. I was thinking of recommending her to read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie. I will surely recommend her to watch the movie as well. And if anybody knows other good self-study resource, please let me know!

    • Marty Jordan says:

      That book is a timeless classic and would also suggest you find a more contemporary book to offer her. There are a number of great books on the topic. I would suggest Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis and Annie McKee.

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