The power of Emotional Intelligence: Part 1

One the axioms of the world of Emotional Intelligence is that while IQ gets you the job, it is EQ that gets you promoted.

Yet in the 2011 film Margin Call this principle is not followed. One of the sub-plots of the film is the interplay between two junior risk analysts. Peter Sullivan is a true quant and a former engineer who, when thrown a memory stick by his recently terminated boss, carries out the analysis that demonstrates the bank is bankrupt. He is introverted and hesitant in his speech.

His colleague, Seth Bregman, is a true extravert, in the bars, always socialising, always trying to work out how much all the managers are earning. His EQ is much higher that his IQ. I met many people like Seth in my 25 years in the financial services industry. Their fathers had typically been very successful, were clients of the bank, and had used their connections and power to get a position for their offspring. The offspring were privately educated, well spoken and unfortunately only apparently intelligent.

In the film, Seth gets fired and is crying in the toilet. Meanwhile, when his manager asks John Tuld, the CEO of the bank whether he is also to fire Peter, John replies, “No way, when we get out of this crisis there will be money to be made and Peter is too smart to let go. I have just promoted him”. The camera then segues to Peter gingerly entering the executive suite dining room.

Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman makes the same point. Willy Loman raises his sons to believe that social skills are more important than conscientiousness and intelligence. In the play this mistaken view leads to the sons failing in their careers and Willy’s eventual suicide.

I have seen estimates that 85% of your potential success in life depends on your emotional intelligence. This is a gross overestimate. On the other hand developing your emotional intelligence skills, particularly through the use of a practical model of temperament such as the Humm-Wadsworth, can be a great help in your career.

In my next blog I will discuss the emotional intelligence of the C level managers in Margin Call. If you have not seen the film I highly recommend you do so.


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