Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

By Barry Pruitt

"Emotional Intelligence or EQ is not a simple repackaging of the 'soft skills' we so often hear about in business.  It is based on research.  Good managers have known for years that communicating effectively, treating people well, and modeling appropriate behavior themselves makes good business sense."

- Emily Sterrett, Ph D

All fifth graders know that they can play one parent against the other in an effort to get what they want. Every Are_You_Smarter_Tah__a_5th_Graderparent learns to guard against it – or pay a price. Becoming conscious of this “game” is part of emotional intelligence. Research indicates that people with well-developed emotional intelligence have advantages that far outweigh people with high IQ intelligence but are emotionally less astute.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is not just being "nice," singing “We are the World” while holding hands, or giving free reign to one’s feelings. Instead, successful people use their EI to manage feelings both appropriately and effectively so that the common good and goals of the work group can be readily achieved.  The term "Emotional Intelligence" refers to the personal-management and social skills that allow us to succeed in our interactions with other people, and includes the ability to understand and control our own emotions and recognize and respond to those of others.

There are a number of factors that impact the emotional intelligence of people at work, and there are some good tools on the market that will measure it. I prefer the EQ-i 2.0,which breaks this measurement into 5 composites of 3 skills each. The composites are Self Perception, Self Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making, and Stress Management.   

Consider actions you need to take as a leader in your organization to get all participants to share information and contribute for good decision-making.  Remember that one key is to understand others, gain political awareness of the emotional currents/power relationships, leverage diversity, and develop others – all emotional intelligence skills.

So, who needs emotional intelligence, anyway? Statistically, 85% of successful managers have well-developed emotional intelligence skills, so it follows that we could ALL need emotional intelligence and would benefit from awareness of our own emotional intelligence skills and the emotional intelligence characteristics of those around us!  

As a leader in a fast-growth company, you should depend on the emotional intelligence of your team.  The necessity of team building, collaborative work environments and quick-to-market project development efforts require keen emotional intelligence skills to be successful. 

Honing your emotional intelligence skills could increase your ability to:

  • Manage stress and emotions
  • Communicate nonverbally
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Motivate others
  • Get results   

Using your emotional intelligence skills on a daily basis will help you accomplish your goals and find greater personal satisfaction in your work. Whether you are managing yourself or thousands of others, consulting your emotional experiences while making decisions will benefit you and your team. 

The best part is that, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed.  Yes, it can grow!  It could take 3–6 months to make any substantial improvement in Emotional Intelligence, but the payoff is worth it. Real leaders are those who actively inspire and motivate others, create teamwork, and achieve outstanding results; they model the behavior they want to see in their team – and, it makes them smarter than a 5th grader!


Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm

Barry Pruitt


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