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IQ or EQ?

17th Feb 2020
Brought to you by
Soft Skills
Soft Skills provides specialist training and development courses, exclusively for professionals...
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What is more important as an accountant? Building a team with high levels of intelligence (IQ) or developing your own and your team’s emotional intelligence? 

For many years, the IQ Test has been the preferred tool for not only testing intelligence, but also indicating whether an individual will be successful in their career and other aspects of life. Despite this, recent research has highlighted the importance of Emotional Intelligence, and related measuring tools (such as the Emotional Quotient (EQ)), as a more accurate indicator than IQ. A relatively recent concept, emotional intelligence is concerned with our understanding and response to emotions – our own and those of others.

Despite our insistence as accountants that we think and act logically, the importance of emotion in our decision making is often misunderstood. Initially, the emotional area of our brain (the Limbic System) quickly reviews the information available and decides whether to act. This review is often clumsy, based on assumptions and does not consider rational thought as important. Assuming that we are not facing immediate danger or overcome with emotion – perceived or real, the logical area of our brain (the Neocortex) now has an opportunity to ‘think’. This generally involves the consideration of facts, logical thought and reasoning.

A critical part of strong emotional intelligence is whether we recognise that our emotions can impact how we behave and whether we have the ability to manage and regulate how we act. Individuals that are adept at managing and regulating their emotions, are usually seen as better leaders, more consistent work colleagues and less prone to uncontrollable emotional outbursts. In addition, individuals with a good level of emotional regulation are generally more successful in their career. Not only do such individuals effectively manage the ‘highs’ of success in business by remaining focused, but deal with personal failures and setbacks through resilience and positivity. 

All of these behaviours are aligned to emotional (EQ), rather than standard (IQ) intelligence. By understanding our own emotions, it generally becomes easier to understand those of others. At the core of this relationship between ourselves and others, is the concept of empathy – the ability to ‘step into the shoes’ of someone else, and understand how they feel. Individuals that display strong levels of empathy are usually more effective at forming and maintaining relationships with others. 

As accountants, developing positive relationships with our customers and teams is clearly beneficial to maintaining and generating business. Although high levels of IQ will help in providing a logical argument, EQ will get you closer to your customers and truly understand their problems and concerns.

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