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Emotional Intelligence: The Flip Side of Smart

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Andrew Ansoorian contributed to this blog. Andrew is a 15 year human capital practitioner and is currently the Director of Human Resources for Shenandoah County Public Schools in Virginia. Andrew believes the "true test of one's character isn't how one handles adversity, but how one handles power." (Quote, Mike Petrilli, Stanford)

Human capital professionals strive to attract and retain "smart" people who are the "best and brightest" as we conduct our talent searches. However, is there a part of being "smart" or "bright" that we may not be effectively assessing and identifying?

For decades, many talent management strategies have focused heavily on cognitive related aspects, such as IQ, in building our selection systems. While there is abundant research supporting the predictive relationship between IQ and job performance, we also know that it at best accounts for 25 percent of the variance in performance (Hunter and Hunter, 1984). ID-10053095.jpg

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net user 'Master Isolated Images'

So what's our other option? What about shifting from a focus on IQ to emotional intelligence?
Daniel Goleman's seminal work in the 1990s on "emotional intelligence," or "EI", suggests there is a "flip side" of intelligence that warrants serious attention. Goleman is a world-renowned author, scientist, professor, and speaker on the topic of emotional intelligence.

In a 2010 SHRM online interview with Goleman on the topic, he notes that, "Emotional intelligence determines how well we manage ourselves and our relationships. An employee may have a high IQ--and so be technically brilliant--but if he lacks self-awareness or self-mastery, he won't be able to leverage those intellectual abilities at their peak. And if he lacks relationship abilities, he'll have difficulty in working with other people."

Thus, many of the competencies linked to EI are precisely the 21st century competencies that are needed to deliver a world class education system. How do we grow and develop students to be more than just "book smart" to actually being able to solve problems, manage relationships, be open to change and ambiguity, function in a group with others socially, be self-aware, and have the ability to self-manage.


Many of the competencies linked to EI are not only important for building a world class education system, but are precisely the qualities organizations should look for in selecting high-functioning employees. How do we recruit, select, grow, develop, reward, and retain staff who are more than just "book smart" but are also able to solve problems, manage relationships, be open to change and ambiguity, function in a group with others socially, be self-aware, and have the ability to self-manage?

In a future blog, Andrew and I will discuss how talent managers in a various industries are recruiting, identifying, developing, evaluating, and rewarding E.I.

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