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Why do high IQ people stagnate in their careers? Emotional intelligence

Research suggests that emotional intelligence is more vital for success than IQ

By | Kevin Dickinson |

  • Popular perception is that raw intelligence makes people successful or not.
  • But research suggests that emotional intelligence may be what differentiates star performers.
  • You can cultivate your emotional intelligence, but you’ll need self-efficacy to do so.

Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Ludwig van Beethoven, John Rockefeller, Ada Lovelace, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. What do these people have in common? They were all incredibly successful in their respective fields, and they are all personalities who have had the label “genius” attached to them. The lesson learned from their examples is evident: Success and intelligence go hand-in-hand.

And there is some truth to that. Intelligence as measured by an IQ test — that is, general intelligence — does correlate with beneficial life outcomes, such as educational attainment and life expectancy.

Let loose into the wilds of our cultural consciousness, however, this research has morphed into the false assumption that IQ is the end-all-be-all of intelligence. It’s not. General intelligence is not synonymous with “absolute intelligence”; rather, it’s an assessment of skills within a set of specific cognitive domains (perceptual reasoning, verbal comprehension, etc.). As Jonny Thomson writes for Big Think:

“The trouble occurs when people misunderstand this point. They assume IQ represents raw ‘brain power.’ Worse, some people equate IQ with worth. Employers, especially, might write off a person based on a low IQ. Doing so fails to appreciate that many employees can offer skills and abilities that lie beyond the scope of IQ tests.”

In fact, despite popular perception, IQ may not even be the differentiating ability between star performers and everyone else. That difference may be found in another form of intelligence: emotional intelligence.

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