Intelligence: More than IQ?

No one is denying that intellect can help you succeed in finding a job related to a specific field or be viewed as an expert in that industry.

However, leading researchers of human motivation and organizational development acknowledge that it takes more than “book smarts” to be effective. Some of the most popular research about intelligence focuses on what Daniel Goleman has described as emotional intelligence or EQ.

According to Goleman, EQ has four main components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Social skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy

In K-12 schools, we hear administrators speak about social-emotional intelligence (SEL), which emphasizes the importance of “knowing/regulating self” and “knowing/empathizing with others.” An individual with EQ can connect with others socially and emotionally.

With this in mind, there has been a strong connection between EQ and business leaders/employees as well.  The main take-away is that leaders who have a more evolved sense of EQ will better relate to their employees and improve motivation as well as employee engagement.

Further off the radar, however, are two additional sources of intelligence some view as relevant in the workplace. These are spiritual intelligence and cultural intelligence.

  • Spiritual intelligence (SQ) encompasses one’s understanding of their role (in a group or organization) and the consistent desire to maximize personal and group impact. In doing so, one sees the bigger picture and how they contribute to it. Don’t be fooled, spiritual intelligence is not religious in nature. Rather SQ focuses on an awareness of the interconnectedness of life. It is the intersection of inner wisdom and outward compassion. Arguably, spiritual intelligence is needed by many leaders today to remind their followers about the good in the world (positivity) and their contributions to being part of the process (inclusiveness). The desire for workplace involvement and impact have been consistently tied to values of the Millennial generation.
  • Cultural intelligence embraces the diversity and differences we see in the world. This goes beyond traditional definitions of diversity related to gender, race, ethnicity, etc. It also includes cultural differences based upon where we live, what we value and how we live our lives. Cultural intelligence allows us to work together to achieve goals and solve problems – relishing in our unique contributions and the creativity/innovation that comes with appreciating differences.

Most groups reach quality outcomes when people from various backgrounds, perspectives and points of view are brought together. It takes a savvy leader to bring out the best of each employee, welcome opposing points of view and appreciate individual differences. Perhaps emotional, spiritual and cultural intelligence can help leaders to achieve such goals.

This leaves us wondering, is there more to intelligence than just IQ?

About Dr. Lesley Page

Lesley Page is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Organizational Leadership at Lewis University. ( She is an expert in organizational change, employee engagement and emotional / spiritual intelligence.

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