Assessment : IQ, EQ and SQ

Margot’s first degree at the University of Sydney was a Bachelor of Education. She moved to Darwin where she headed up Darwin Family Centers. This organization provided child care and family support for the families across the top end of Australia. It was while studying for her MBA that she started working as a business consultant, at the youthful age of 24.

Margot works with some of the world’s top companies at executive level, helping organizations in times of crisis, such as after mergers and takeovers. She mentors numerous leading international business figures and conducts workshops and conferences.

She is the author of "Approaching the Corporate Heart", ISBN 0-7318-0655-7, Simon & Schuster. 

Margot is Chairman of Zaffyre International, and can be reached at See also her websites at and

We all grew up knowing IQ ( Intelligence Quotient ) was important. At my school, girls with high IQ’s were forced to study Latin and History. The less smart ones got to study German and Geography (which at the time, seemed far more practical and useful to me). Then we were told about EQ ( Emotional Quotient ) which it seems is a far more accurate indicator of adult success than IQ. We already suspected this. Mensa ( the organization for those with exceptionally high IQ’s ) is full of socially dysfunctional genii.

EQ, we are told, accounts for more than 85% of exceptional achievement. Research shows that the more complex the task, the more important is one’s EQ. Results of a variety of studies provide us with some stunning figures. The top 1% of programmers in the IT industry for example had 1300% higher productivity than their peers. While technical skills were necessary here, they were hardly sufficient. The differentiators were elements of emotional intelligence displayed through collaboration and teamwork. Harvard professor and leadership guru Warren Bennis claims that in every case of leadership failure he has encountered it is always character and judgment that have led to the problem. Character and judgment are the result of EQ.

The hallmarks of EQ are Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Social Skills. Those with high EQ are motivated, self-disciplined, aspire to excellence, continually seek reskilling and learning and add value. These qualities sustain long term business development and build strong corporate cultures that promote high morale and prevent loss of talent.

But wait, there is more. Now we have SQ ( Spiritual Quotient ). While IQ allows us to think and EQ helps us relate, SQ allows us to do both these things during times of rapid change. IQ & EQ were sufficient in a relatively static world. SQ provides the linkage in times of paradigm shift and chaos.

Those with high SQ have the capacity to question, think creatively, change the rules, work effectively in changing situations by playing with the boundaries, break through obstacles and being innovative. Our SQ encourages us to see the bigger picture, to be co-creators of the world in which we live.

Outstanding performers have high IQ, high EQ and high SQ. This makes them alive, dynamic, sociable and innovative. You are unlikely therefore, to find many of them in traditional organisations.

Traditional organisations, based on the machine model, prefer controllable cogs in the organisational wheel, rather than people who are switched on intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. The addictive rules of organisations heavily discourage those who think outside the box and have the emotional health to want to be their own person.

While the old guys might play happily by the old rules, the young bloods ( the holders of much valuable intellectual capital and champions of much innovation ) want more. A recent survey commissioned by the Australian Financial Review ( see Boss, 6 August, 2000 ) found that young people were “inventing their own workplace” which was egalitarian ( not hierarchical), open plan ( everyone was part of the team ), relaxed and sociable ( you could be yourself ) and where feedback, praise, mentoring, learning and real listening were core cultural ingredients.

This is the kind of organisation that Anderson, Klein & Stuart ( “Is real change possible” (1999) ) class as having reached the independent level, a level currently reached by only 25% of organisations. Most organisations are still in what the authors called Egocentric, which is very controlling, with employees playing either victim or rebel roles. Egocentric organisations are authoritarian and oppressive, within the realms of the addictive rules of organisations or socialised ( patriarchal, old style machine age organisations run by the ‘benevolent parent”, who makes all the creative and political decisions but treats the employees humanly ).

While the young are demanding Independent organisations and leadership, Anderson, Klein & Stuart tell us that we can do better. They describe two higher stages of organisations being Integral and Sacred which take us into a whole new realm of corporate achievement ( value added ), employee growth and satisfaction, ethics and good corporate citizenship ( including social and environmental custodianship ).

But how do we get there ? While IQ allows us to analyse what “is” - the traditional role of academia - and EQ helps us to adapt to the world as it changes, it is SQ that has us transform our world into a whole new order of being. The way to develop our IQ is quite different to that which develops our EQ, which is different again to that which develops our SQ. What is exciting is that there are holistic methodologies available that allow us to develop all three simultaneously in ways that enrich our lives and add value. The trick is to find and use such methodologies effectively.

© Margot Cairnes 2001


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