Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence: What Matters Most for Mixed Teams?

Corporate growth without a healthy level of emotional intelligence among employees is virtually impossible, say Karen Wendt and Joan Graci. Mixed teams, women at the top of companies and emotional intelligence are equally clear guarantees of success.

“A leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. She must be able to withstand heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts joy and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” – Jack Welch, chairman of GE, speaking to the Wall Street Journal

Intelligence as a supposed indicator for success

Intelligence is something that is very crucial to the core of investors, finance people, and techies. Combined with innovation capacity, sound job knowledge and the capability of imagining the future, what can go wrong? Many tech, fintech, blockchain specialists and the ones transitioning from the old industries like banking, finance and insurance to the new blockchain and fintech space are proud of their achievements and their intelligence; their capabilities to imagine the future. 

It’s safe to say that throughout one’s lifetime we have been taught the importance of our intelligent quotient (IQ) as a major predictor of our success. This is why it’s tempting to read into someone’s IQ score and judge them solely off of that number. However, psychologists who study intelligence find this is only partially true. 

Mixed teams are more successful

Mixed leadership is the current formula for success in many industries in the digital transformation. There are now enough studies that show that mixed teams perform better and are more innovative and successful in the long-term.  What is being solved in exemplary fashion in countries like Ireland is still in its infancy.

Since 2007, studies have proven it time and again: mixed teams are simply more innovative. Companies with women on the board are economically more successful than those with purely male members. “Mixed Leadership” is therefore the current formula for success in personnel management. But where are the women in the block chain industry, the telecommunications industry, the financial industry and the fintech industry in Switzerland?

Women at the top of companies are a guarantee for success

The 2012 study by the auditing and consulting firm Ernst & Young (“Mixed Leadership; Mixed Management Teams and their Influence on Company Performance”) compared the team structures of the 300 largest listed companies in Europe and came to the conclusion that women at the top of companies are a clear guarantee of success. Turnover, profit, number of employees, market value – all key figures in 2005 and 2010 were the reverse for those companies here: “The verdict is devastating for those top managers who in 2010 were still purely male circles. Turnover, profit, market capitalization or employment: everything there is worse than the average.” 

Let’s sit back and imagine for one moment how successful your team would be if it is was mixed, and what the impact would be on your employer branding. 

Fusion of intelligence and social attractiveness

Not only women are missing, but there seems to be a missing link in the finance and blockchain industry: the advancement of emotional intelligence. IQ tests can predict how well people will do in particular situations, such as thinking abstractly in science, finance, and engineering. But when it comes to a well-rounded business professional, there is much more to their story. What makes a team shine and what can predict job performance is merging intelligence with social attractiveness, the way you are handling others and yourself on the job. It is the interplay between intelligence and emotional intelligence that raises success and job performance for teams and companies. 

Achievement depends on many things and the more we understand how the brain stores and uses information throughout our daily activities, the more we can achieve an increased level of self-awareness.  Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, has emerged as a pivotal form of intellect because once it is developed you will have the unique ability to recognize and control your own emotions as a means to enhance your professional development. 

David Caruso, one of the founding researchers of EQ, said it best

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head – it is the unique intersection of both.”  – David Caruso

Urgent need for emotional intelligence in the financial sector

Once you master the ability to recognize your emotions, you will be able to use that information to help guide your thinking and behaviors, which will ultimately help you better understand yourself and others. Developing high levels of EQ increases your chances of successfully achieving your goals. It is for this reason that the financial sector has recognized the urgent need for this form of intellect. Financial institutions must prove themselves to be dependable in order for their clients to trust them with their assets. What better way to increase trustworthiness than by being accountable, direct, and flexible with current and potential clients, which are all soft skills that can be enhanced through EQ. 

Automation within the financial sector can never be replaced by face-to-face communication with key stakeholders and their clients. This reality requires a person’s ability to develop competencies so that they can positively engage with a range of individuals from different backgrounds. 

Here are some competencies that can be strengthened through developing your EQ: 

  • Flexibility
  • Understanding
  • Active Listening
  • Communication, both verbal and nonverbal
  • Collaboration
  • Influencing
  • Achieving a Common Goal 
  • Empathy

Training of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence can be broken up by these branches: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Self-awareness: having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses. Self-management: one’s control over their own behavior instead of being externally controlled by others. Individuals who use self-management monitor performance, take corrective actions, and seek resources. Social Awareness: the ability to understand and respond to the needs of others. Relationship Management: interpersonal and social skills, such as providing inspiration, having influence, possessing the abilities to develop others (Rozell et al, 2001). 

These are key components when interacting with current and new customers. By decoding these levels, you will become more empathetic, which is an essential competency when working with people in customer-focused situations. When you can better understand where your customer is coming from, you will be able to deliver the best service catered to their specific needs and wants.  This applies also to your internal customers and team colleagues. Putting together a team that can form, storm, norm and perform better should be the ultimate goal.

Why You Need Emotionally Intelligent Teams in Today’s Market

Emotional Intelligence should be a key attribute in most finance roles when recruiting, but embedding it into an organization’s culture takes a sufficient amount of time because it requires training, both theoretical and practical. Assessments can help give people a mirror image of where they fall as it relates to their behaviors and motivators. Our partner organization, APA Solutions, distributes the TriMetrix EQ assessment to their students and it reveals much about how a person acts, reacts, thinks, and feels the way they do. If a company does not exhibit a healthy amount of EQ in their team and their culture, it will be difficult to grow and survive through uncertain times. Those with low levels of emotional intelligence are more susceptible to disengagement, illness, and antagonizing tendencies, which will directly result in reduced profit levels. Promoting an environment in which EQ is championed will undoubtedly create a clear communication pathway that will lead to a better understanding of goals, a sharpening of team focus, motivation, and the ability to get the best out of those in your business. Staff attrition rates and sick leave should decrease, which would have a positive impact on productivity.

The relevance of intelligence and emotional intelligence

Now we are not saying that IQ is less important than EQ, because that is simply not true; they are complements of each other. IQ is a great indicator of the technical skills you will excel at, and EQ focuses on your emotional skills, or your soft skills, such as stress management, knowing when you are at your best vs. your worst, and cooperation. When you merge the two together, you will become equipped with the well-rounded ability to effectively communicate with your team and clients through being more aware of yours and others’ emotional states, which leads to happier employees, more innovative leaders, and increased profit levels. 

Making use of the form of the intellect

Every person in the tech, finance, fintech and blockchain industry – not just those in leadership or hiring roles – shares the responsibility and challenge of solving the gender divide. Your words, your actions, and your inactions can make a difference, both positively and negatively, otherwise, it will stay as it is.  We’ve seen amazingly talented women either leave these industries or never go into them because they’re male-dominated fields. 

We must address the elephant in the room: the unconscious mind. Are we tapping into our great potential by considering how our fixed mindset may be sabotaging how we both grow ourselves and others? Emotional intelligence is that curated journey that will allow you to take that peak inside yourself and better explore your potential. 

Emotionally intelligent organizations in the financial sector are more successful and we must reap the benefits of what these companies have done by taking advantage of this advanced form of intellect. 

We will follow-up on exactly this point in our next collaboration with one of the only brain-based organizations in the United States, APA Solutions, beginning in January 2021.

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About the author

Joan Graci

As an advocate for leading with the brain in mind, Joan is an expert in EQ, agile leadership and many more brain-related spaces. She continues to engage her diverse client-base in utilizing her three-plus decades of experience within the professional development space by enhancing her training with the most cutting-edge neuroscience.