Monday Mornings with Madison

EQ, IQ and SQ: The Leadership Trifecta

John Quincy Adams once said that “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  But the question of what makes a good leader has been dissected for centuries if not millennia. So much has been written about what it takes to be a great leader and how to spot leadership potential in others.  Business owners and managers all want to possess and provide the kind of visionary leadership that makes an organization grow and thrive.  Much has been said about the intelligence, skills and the emotional traits needed for great leadership.

Initially, leadership qualities were basically divided into two areas:  IQ (intelligence quotient) which describes the person’s level of intellect or mental ability; and EQ (emotional quotient) which describes the individual’s degree of emotional maturity and strength.  More recently, another silo of qualities has also come to be seen as essential to leadership.  This is called SQ or Spiritual Quotient.  A person’s spiritual quotient is not related at all to the person’s religion or religious beliefs.  The Spiritual Quotient looks at a person’s ability to be creative, insightful, courageous, wise, authentic, compassionate, and peaceful, among a host of other traits.

It is believed that the most successful leaders are those who possess a high degree of IQ, EQ and SQ combined.  In the search for visionary leaders, businesses should look for the IQ-EQ-SQ trifecta.  So exactly what are the elements of IQ, EQ and SQ and can a person improve their IQ, EQ and SQ?

IQ, The Intelligence Quotient

Most people know that IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient.  This is the number representing a person’s ability to reason — measured using problem-solving tests — as compared to the statistical norm or average for their age.   While some discount IQ as being all that important for leadership success, others see it as a vital component.  Dr. Henryk Krajewski, president of the Anderson Leadership Group — a consulting firm that advises organizations on leadership, strategy, and talent – believes that “IQ – which is commonly thought to be hard-wired and difficult to change or develop – governs our future, maximal performance.”

Indeed, it makes sense that an individual who is able to analyze complexity in numbers, language and spatial tasks can come up with more right answers and make better overall decisions. The ability to anticipate variables, manage risk, and forecast events is complemented by greater mental ability.  Indeed, research shows that a person’s mental ability increases in importance as a person rises within an organization.  That’s because typically the higher the position a person holds, the more complex the job.  That explains why he and many other researchers believe that IQ is a vitally important predictor of leadership potential.  Does that mean companies should be giving leadership applicants an IQ exam?  No. While mental ability has been demonstrated to be the single best predictor of performance for leaders, it’s not the only predictor, nor is it the only important one.

EQ, The Emotional Quotient

EQ is the measure of a person’s adequacy in areas relating to emotions such as self-awareness, empathy, and dealing sensitively with other people.  Some define it as the ability to perceive and integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and regulate emotions to promote personal growth.  Emotional intelligence includes empathy, self-regulation, motivation, social skills and the ability to be happy.

Increasingly EQ is seen as a critically important quality of most any employee (at any level). Indeed, a CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 hiring managers found that 75% value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ.  But EQ is particularly valuable in a leader.  That’s because EQ is what gives a person the ability to read situations and people and anticipate the best responses to produce the best outcomes for everyone involved.

The problem is that while it is fairly easy to test and determine a person’s IQ score (although most people are never asked to take an IQ test or provide their IQ score at job interviews), it is much harder to determine a person’s EQ score.  Thus, although valuable, it very difficult for hiring managers to identify people with high EQ or hire based on EQ.

SQ, The Spiritual Quotient

That brings us to the least understood of the qualities that make a good leader.   The Spiritual Quotient is focused on a person’s ability to be creative, insightful, adaptable, courageous, selfless, wise, authentic, compassionate, peaceful, and live with purpose, among a host of other traits.  Cindy Wigglesworth, in her book, SQ21, identified 21 key elements within the Spiritual Quotient.  Her research showed that Spiritual Quotient is developed over time, with significant practice.  The skills are divided into four main groups:

Self Awareness:

  • Own world view
  • Life purpose (mission)
  • Values hierarchy
  • Complexity of inner thought
  • Ego / higher self

Universal Awareness:

  • Interconnectedness
  • Worldviews of others
  • Time / space perception
  • Limitations
  • Spiritual principles

Self Mastery

  • Commitment to spiritual growth
  • Staying in charge of oneself
  • Living one’s purpose and values
  • Sustaining faith
  • Seeking inner guidance

Social Mastery

  • Wisdom and effective teaching
  • Change agent
  • Compassionate decision-maker
  • Calming, healing presence
  • Going with the ebb and flow of life

Mrs. Wigglesworth defined SQ as the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.  Wisdom and compassion are considered the main pillars of SQ, which explains why SQ is key to leadership.  It contributes to a deeper understanding of one’s own world view, life purpose, and value hierarchy and helps restrain one’s personal ego in consideration of the higher self.  These skills are especially crucial for those in positions of leadership, since they help in making decisions on a higher level while in the midst of stress, complexity, and high rates of change.

Raising One’s IQ, EQ and SQ

Can a person raise his IQ, EQ and SQ?  The simple answer is yes.  Although IQ is considered the least malleable of traits, being a life-long learner is widely regarded as the way to increase intellectual level.  This helps improve the mind, professional expertise, and position in life. And IQ contributes significantly to SQ.  It is the personal wisdom attained throughout the maturing process.

Some ways to increase IQ include enrolling in classes of higher learning, obtaining a second degree, and/or increasing ones technical expertise through classes.  A person could also research intellectual topics such as philosophy, religion, symbolism, leadership, psychology.  And, being surrounded with people or organizations dedicated to life-long learning also increases IQ.

As for EQ, there are many ways to raise one’s EQ.  An important part of EQ is being able to identify one’s feelings when making important life choices.  Increasing one’s emotional vocabulary helps to describe a full range of emotions.  Knowing how to express emotions also helps in managing them in a proper and healthy way.  Also, using present language helps focus more on the present moment.  Putting thoughts, feelings, and beliefs on paper also helps put things into perspective.

Empathy is also an extremely powerful and essential way to raising one’s EQ.  The ability to empathize helps a person get closer to others, gain their support when needed, and potentially defuse high-charged professional and personal conflicts. Empathy is recognized as the second-most important emotion to acquire.  Empathy demonstrates an ability to understand where someone else is coming from and gain his respect. To be more empathetic, it helps to be aware and listen carefully to what is being said in order to discern how the person is feeling.

Last but not least, to raise one’s SQ is possible and necessary, but also challenging.  In order to increase the spiritual quotient, a person must reduce his ego, surrender and serve others, show more compassion and express more gratitude.  For many, these behaviors do not come easily.  That is why SQ is perhaps the rarest – but also the most important — of all leadership qualities.  That is because Spiritual Intelligence is key to sustainable lifelong performance at extraordinary levels.  It is the science of human energy management that gives a person access to the full range of human capabilities required to succeed and prosper in the current economic environment and social climate. It is, thus, essential for leaders.

Global Training Initiatives

If all this EQ and SQ stuff sounds like much nonsense, consider that companies worldwide – including McKinsey, Shell, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Starbucks, and Merck Pharmaceuticals – have created models for developing and measuring Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence.  In fact, McKinsey and PwC are developing global training initiatives and programs in Spiritual Intelligence in conjunction with some of the great thought leaders in this space.  But perhaps one of the best examples of a forward-thinking SQ & EQ leadership initiative comes from none other than Google.

Google SW Engineer Chade-Meng Tan (Meng), in collaboration with a CEO and Stanford University scientist Daniel Goleman, developed a popular course for Google employees called “Search Inside Yourself.”  Meng distilled Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence into a set of practical and proven tools and skills that anyone could learn and develop.  “Search Inside Yourself” teaches how to grow inner joy while succeeding at work. His program was grounded in science and expressed in a way that even a skeptical, compulsively pragmatic, engineering-oriented brain could process.  It is still used today.   Meng still works at Google but his official job title is now: ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ and his job description is “Enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace.”

It’s hard to beat that for visionary leadership.

Quote of the Week

“Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious–but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.” Jim Collins, Good to Great


© 2016, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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