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There are many ways to measure a person’s intellect. Modern psychology will often group intelligence into four areas: intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional quotient (EQ), social quotient (SQ) and adversity quotient (AQ).

Most people have heard of IQ and our education systems have historically placed high value on this metric. IQ is linked with recall, problem solving ability, language skills and the ability to adapt and change; among other measurements.

However, there’s been a shift in recent years and EQ has been getting more airtime. EQ refers to your ability to relate to people, understand them and work cooperatively. Self-awareness, empathy and self-regulation are all important here too.

Remarkably, high EQ is the strongest predictor of performance in business. As this article highlights, “high EQ helps organisations understand the intangibles that make leaders successful… 90 percent of top performers are high in EQ and just 20 percent of bottom performers are high in EQ.”

Can EQ be taught?

At surface value, EQ might seem intrinsic – you’ve either got it or you don’t. Whereas by contrast, our schools and universities can help you build up your IQ… right?

Potentially not. The reality is actually the other way round. The science is complex and inconclusive on whether IQ can be greatly improved, but EQ can definitely be taught and enhanced. Our education system has gradually been pivoting towards a greater emphasis on EQ – here is a great article that outlines some methods.

What about SQ and AQ?

SQ is actually a broader umbrella under which EQ falls. In a nutshell, SQ = charisma. It’s your ability to build a network of friends and maintain them over a period of time. It’s also your communication skills, common sense, tact and a whole raft of other important traits. In other words, it’s your likeability. 

AQ also has overlap with EQ. It refers to your resilience, tolerance to failure, ability to unlearn and relearn; as well as your curiosity and flexibility. 

So in actuality, AQ, SQ and EQ are all interlinked, whereas IQ sits separate. The research has shown that if you’re looking to develop your leadership skills and progress further in your chosen field, you’d do well to focus on the former three. 

This depends a little, of course, on the industry you’re in, but broadly speaking human beings are social and emotional creatures. It will be interesting to see how our schools and universities change in the coming years and decades to adapt to this dynamic, constantly evolving area of social science.