Saturday, December 22, 2007

How smart are you?

Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence asserts that IQ alone is not a predictor of success. While CEO's may be hired for their combination of business sense and IQ, they get fired because of failures in their emotional intelligence.

His claim makes sense. Anecdotally, as a teacher I find that my personal stresses are not related to the intellectual content of my courses, but rather the relational demands of classroom management, parent interactions, etc. (I'd also like to point out that I am very fortunate to work at a school with mutually supportive staff and appreciative parents, so those stresses are much less than what other teaching peers experience). And as far as a correlation between IQ and marital success, well I won't even go there.

So what is emotional intelligence? So far, Goleman's definition includes "being able . . . to rein in emotional impulse; to read another's innermost feelings; to handle relationships smoothly - as Aristotle put it, the rare skill 'to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way'" (xxiii).

Goleman's use of Aristotle reminds me of C. S. Lewis's definition of temperance: "going the right length and no further" (Mere Christianity, 2001, p. 78). So emotions per se are not the problem (Goleman also discusses beneficial physiological responses to emotions), but rather emotions that are allowed to exceed proper limits.

IDEA LEADER: In what areas do you have a hard time allowing your emotions to go "the right distance and no further"? What steps could you take to correct this?

Photo: Julia Freeman-Woolpert


The Samples said...

I wonder to what extent emotional intelligence (EI) and character might be correlated. Your statement on "power" reminded me of how dangerous power becomes when it exceeds character. Can character -or the lack thereof- predict EI in some way, or visa versa?
Good stuff!

Stan said...

If you will allow me to equate character and virtue, then yes, there is a strong correlation between EI and character.

For example, temperance is one of the cardinal virtues. Also the Aristotle quote is, I believe, from _Nicomachean Ethics_, which also deals with virtue.

I am still in the preliminary reading stages with Goleman's book, but a love-filled environment seems necessary to develop EI in children or workers.

Considering love is generally considered a virtue (though not one of the cardinal virtues), that is additional evidence for your thesis.

Thanks for posting a great question!