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EQ vs IQ: Clash of the Titans​

Are EQ and IQ destined to be at war? Paul Drewitt investigates.

On an average Google search we can find literally hundreds of articles and quotes highlighting the importance of EQ over IQ and leadership versus management.

The substance of such articles is always about whether EQ or IQ is more important. A series of well set out arguments are then highlighted in order to persuade the reader of the importance of EQ over IQ. 

I have always read such articles with much interest. Most highlight the point that EQ is more important than IQ and that your intelligence quotient is merely an indication of your brain’s overall fitness and efficiency.

We often become intrigued by the process of eliminating contributing factors and concentrate on prioritising processes to distinguish the ‘one area’ that is most important. We then focus on that one area at the expense of other skills that are part of the larger picture but equally important.

Let’s examine various examples that argue the point of complementation; that no single virtue or skill will necessarily lead to having more, being better at something or attaining more success, and that in most cases, we need to concentrate on skills integration to acquire excellence.


EQ is the ability to handle conflict, manage stress, develop self-awareness and work with people more effectively. You can see why this skill is highly sought after in the workplace and in our personal lives. Most people get this; if you demonstrate high EQ you can get along better with your colleagues, negotiate that million dollar deal or be promoted into a leadership position. However, the two Qs (IQ and EQ) are always linked, just as they are always held in comparison. They are linked for one main reason – they complement each other. 

When dealing with conflict in the workplace we need both Qs; if you are mediating a dispute you not only need a soft tone and disposition and the ability to read body language, but also a sharp mind to focus and demonstrate conceptual thinking. To feel the emotion of the situation and empathise also requires split decision thinking of when to respond and how to articulate in the correct way. To increase self-awareness and regulate our emotions to bounce back from failure requires high EQ, but also goal setting which got us started in the first place requires IQ through high levels of concentration and analytical thinking to refine our long term goals to medium term targets, and then to short term actions.

Like tall and short, EQ and IQ complement each other.

Leadership and Management

I often hear that leadership and management are not the same thing. Whilst I am in agreeance I also believe they complement each other and the focus should not be that one skillset is more important than the other. I have organised numerous school camps over the years and its true, the ability to inspire and motivate others, instilling meaning and purpose is the key to human motivation. This will then rub off on the children who feel the energy of the staff which in turn creates an atmosphere of fulfilment and enjoyment; there are certain jobs to be delegated and staff need to be intrinsically motivated to fulfil their obligations, as the leader cannot always be watching. 

However, there is also the administration side; permission forms, transport requirements and adhering to government policies and insurance matters. This must be of equal focus for accountability reasons but requires sound management skills. One skill set is no more important than the other and the leader must know how to do both. We all want to be the leader as it’s more glamorous, however a good leader must also be prepared to be a good manager.

Like day and night, leadership and management complement each other.

Management and leadership Venn diagram

Blue/White/Pink collar workers

Starbucks is a household name. The service is homely with coffee served in real porcelain cups. Pink collar workers serve you at the counter whilst blue collars work out the back. There are many jobs to be performed and if one part of the chain is broken the whole system tumbles. The white collar workers run the central office, making sure the company has vision and meets sales quotas. 

Howard Shultz is the Executive Chairman of the company and knows the business inside out. Having grown up in a poor family, he worked his way through the blue/pink/white collar system, learning something invaluable in each sector. When something is not going to plan, Howard can easily highlight the issue in any given area due to his experience in all three sectors. The role of the Executive Chairman is certainly glamourous, but having ground-level experience in all three sectors is invaluable, especially when determining when and where change needs to occur. One sector is no more important than the other. Simply put, they complement one another.

Like strawberries and cream, blue, white and pink collar workers complement each other.

Whilst some skills and roles are more visible and valued, it is not these skills alone that contribute to a successful outcome. It's more important to concentrate on skills integration, just as various characters in a film complement one another to bring the story together.

Carl Jung quote

Paul Drewitt is an education leader based in Darwin.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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