The three aspects of intelligence and how they translate in business

Although it is not the same, intelligence is often confused with IQ, a measurement of the ‘intelligence’ trait that each one has to a greater or lesser degree in comparison with others. However, intelligence is a complicated term, including factors varying from academic capacity to social adaptability, experiences and practical thinking.

As such, social and emotional intelligence arise, seen as the other side of the same coin with the cognitive capacity of an individual. Let’s explore them in detail:


-General intelligence (IQ)

The goal of most intelligence tests is to measure g, the general intelligence factor. General intelligence, also known as g factor, refers to the existence of a broad mental capacity that influences performance on cognitive ability measures. According to Charles Spearman, who first described the existence of general intelligence in 1904, and the followers of this theory, intelligence can be measured and expressed by a single number, such as the IQ.

However, believing that your IQ lets you know how intelligent you are is actually a very broad statement. Of course, IQ is a ‘must-have’ for getting admissions to schools and universities, and it measures a person’s skills in problem-solving, analysis mathematical logic, and recognition of patterns and relationships.

Although it is not that objective, sometimes companies subject candidates or existing employees to standardized IQ tests, only to monitor their ‘standard’ ability or progress.

High-IQ for an employee may relate to:

  • Critical thinking;
  • Better problem-solving skills;
  • Adaptability;
  • Independence;
  • More assignments and higher compensation.


-Emotional intelligence (EQ)

The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), projected in contrast to IQ, came in the spotlight in mid-1990s. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to recognize, understand and manage their feelings and emotions, as well as those of others. The relation of emotion with intelligence is attributed to emotional centers of the brain that are intricately interwoven with the neurocortical areas involved in cognitive learning, which means, according to Dr. Daniel Goleman, that there is a direct link between emotions and learning.

In the same context, Business Emotional Intelligence or Business EQ, as defined by EBW Global, is about the ability to use your intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence to focus on the critical emotions and underlying behavioural traits that predict occupational performance.

The key to the Business EQ is ‘awareness’, both of one’s self and of others, creating a fruitful ground for leaders and teams to conceive more efficiently how critical emotions and behaviours affect the success of themselves and others.

According to Forbes, an estimated 71% during a study involving over 2,600 hiring managers revealed they valued high EQ over high IQ. The reasons varied: High EQ employees were seen as better at staying calm under pressure, leading by example, being more decisive in business issues, listening more and speaking less, admitting their mistakes, effectively resolving conflict and showing empathy to their co-workers.

Business EQ is based on eight key Emotional Behavioural Clusters:

  1. Decisiveness: Capacity and preparedness to make decisions, the willingness to take initiatives and the level of comfort with decision-making responsibility.
  2. Motivation: Passion and enthusiasm for work, being optimistic, positive and less cautious or hesitant
  3. Influence: Ability to persuade others, to be heard and have an impact.
  4. Adaptability: Capacity of being open-minded and flexible with creative approaches.
  5. Empathy: Sensitivity and the ability to consider others’ feelings.
  6. Conscientiousness: Self-confidence and the need to have structure and meet deadlines.
  7. Stress Resilience: The capability to deal with the day-to-day pressures of work;.
  8. Self-Awareness: The ability to objectively evaluate yourself and understand correctly how others perceive you.


-Social Intelligence (SI)

The theory of social intelligence was first brought to the forefront by American psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920, who defined social intelligence as “the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls – to act wisely in human relations”. Hence, the term is defined as the ability to know oneself and know those with whom you interact.

In the business context, social intelligence is not that different, as it relates to the need of a company to know not only its own missions and values, but also its customers and the whole market. And while the old way of gathering social intelligence has traditionally been particularly time-consuming, requiring complex analytics methods, the new world of web 2.0 as expressed through social media has offered unprecedented opportunities for companies to gain knowledge on the market.

It has been several years now that most organizations have marked social media as a powerful tool in their strategy. There are over 1.5 billion conversations every hour on social media, giving access to huge amounts of data about markets, customers and competitors and enabling brands to better understanding of business operations, turning this challenge into intelligence.

But what are the benefits of incorporating Social Intelligence into marketing strategy? Some of these are summarized herebelow:

  • Time saving on data gathering;
  • Identification of Micro-trends;
  • Better market research; and
  • Competitive intelligence through study of competition.


Never forget, success is varied also by talent, luck, and other factors while intelligence, at its most forms, may be improved by education and training in specific tasks!


Did you know?

In 1988, American psychologist Robert Sternberg developed the triarchic theory of intelligence, defining three different parts that make up intelligence:

  1. Analytical: Academic problem-solving and computation
  2. Practical: ‘Street smarts’ and ‘common sense’
  3. Creative: Imaginative problem-solving.

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