The Value of Emotional Intelligence

“I overvalued intelligence”-Bill Gates. I read this article a couple of years ago (relevant sections are appended below). It appeared in the Times of India and its stayed with me since then.

3 points stood out in my mind from this article:

1. The importance of emotional intelligence for people in Leadership

2. People management skills are not correlated with Scientific IQ and may even be negatively correlated

3. It is rare to find someone who combine Scientific skills with IQ

We often quote this as an example in our People management programs at Shradha HRD. We often ask participants to reflect on anyone they have met at the workplace, past or current that possesses both these skills.

To my mind, if you have both these skills you mind well be on the Satya Nadella path !!!!!!

We had Satya Nadella (Microsoft’s present CEO) as Guest Editor barely a fortnight ago. We’d love to hear what you think of him.

I’m really happy that he’s running Microsoft, so that I don’t have to. I still love Microsoft, I still worry about it and I spend 15% of my time on it and Satya’s very good at using that time. He’s always telling me “Go meet this group. Are they doing a good job, let me know.”

I’ve worked with Satya for a long time. He was always very thoughtful, very good at working with people, He has this very calm way of dealing even with very hard problems. Happily the board endorsed him, because I was so enthusiastic that he should be the CEO. Why is he such a good CEO? It’s hard to say. His book talks about his (quadriplegic) son – which may explain a lot. He’s a very Zen person (laughs). In that respect, he’s probably better than I was. I was too emotional –if something’s not going well – “This is terrible”. But it’s fun to work with him.

Sometime ago, you gave a speech about how you once used to “overvalue intelligence”. Can you elaborate?

There’s a certain type of IQ where I can give you a 500-page book on meteorology and you read it and you understand how tornadoes work. I always admired people who were good at that, and I thought if you were good at that, then everything else is easy. Managing people? Just use common sense. Understanding profit and loss? That’s just a little mathematical equation. “You’re a smart person. You know physics. Go manage this group. It can’t be worse than the Navier-Stokes equation (a complicated fluid dynamics equation),” I used to think. I was wrong about that.
The idea that some of these skills were not correlated with scientific IQ, in fact, that some of them were negatively correlated, it took me a while to figure that out. Those who combine scientific IQ with people skills—like Satya –are rare. You have to learn to build a team with different capabilities and as Microsoft got bigger, it became more important. I’m a little broader in my understanding of different talents now.