Sunday, August 16, 2009

Emotional Intelligence and the MBTI

A few months back I began exploring the Bar-On EQ-i® (Emotional Quotient Inventory) as a tool to add to my inventory for the leadership and executive coaching I do. I have used the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) for quite some time and with great success – MBTI is great because it appeals and applies to such a broad cross-section of people – but I was looking for something that could address a narrower slice of behavioral issues that often seem to be a hinge for the success or failure of leaders.

After several months of independent study which included taking the Bar-On EQ-i® test and participating in a feedback session with a qualified administrator, my journey piqued last week with a three-day marathon, classroom style, complete with written narrative and oral exams.

The good part is, I passed! The bad part is, the process to become a certified EQ-i® practitioner is enough to drag a person with even the highest “EQ” score into the trenches of self-doubt resulting in a 10-point drop just sitting there!

I’m kidding, of course. The reality is, each time I add to my professional tool kit to better equip my executives for leadership, I end up getting as much or more out of it myself. I feel like I got 10 extra “EQ” points just for showing up in class.

Actually, unlike IQ (and unlike MBTI which are hard-wired and static) a person’s EQ can change – and arguably should change. The value of exploring and measuring your current emotional intelligence would be to identify areas that would be beneficial to develop.

For those unfamiliar, the emotional intelligence model uses a tool (self-evaluation questionnaire) and a coach or trainer to aid in the emotional awareness and skill development of the participants. The Bar-On assessment evaluates the following scales:

Intrapersonal Components:
• Self-Regard • Emotional Self-Awareness • Assertiveness • Independence • Self-Actualization

Interpersonal Components:
• Empathy • Social Responsibility • Interpersonal Relationship

Stress Management Components:
• Stress Tolerance • Impulse Control

Adaptability Components:
• Reality Testing • Flexibility • Problem Solving

General Mood Components:
• Optimism • Happiness

Clearly there are elements of the EQ-i® that relate to elements of the Myers-Briggs model but there is no evidence to support that one “Type” or another would have a higher EQ score over another… unlike IQ, where studies have demonstrated consistently higher scores for certain Types over others.

One of the other major differences between EQ and Type is the components versus overall composite score aspect. In the Myers-Briggs model, it’s said that the “whole is greater than the some of its parts” meaning each of your four preferences will certainly have its own meaning in your life and how it plays out in your behavior, but it’s the combination of those four preferences and how they impact each other that is a greater behavioral indicator. The EQ, on the other hand, has greater meaning and value when exploring each individual element. The over all score – a composite average of the scores of the 15 elements – is not as valuable in determining a person’s EQ skills or abilities.

Me? Well, as many of my fellow MBTI readers know, I’m an INTJ … and all the glory and warts that go with being an INTJ translated into to my EQ scores – top-of-the-charts high scores in Independence and Stress Tolerance, but challenged by less than average scores Interpersonal Relations and Self Regard.

My results are a perfect example of the problematic nature with the EQ overall score. I could get back a “healthy” overall score, 1 or 2 standard deviations above average, and have a “Lake Wobegon” moment (where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average) but that’s a problem if I allow a high overall score to distract me from the real work that needs to be done in any given element area that could be suffering or impacting my ability to achieve success in one area or another.

In the end, I think the EQ-i® is a great tool and I look forward to seeing how it can benefit the people I work with (and myself). As an MBTI practitioner, steeped in the Myers-Briggs vocabulary, I found it difficult to discuss observable behavior in the EQ class without using Type-language. I’m fortunate that most of the people I will be using EQ with also share that MBTI vocabulary… I look forward to the challenge of using the EQ model with someone who is unfamiliar with Type. The two tools do complement each other well.

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1 comment:

Kel said...

GREAT blog, Coach Yost! I enjoyed it and now my brain is working overtime to try to translate the content and verbage and apply it personally. Seems like EQ could focus on areas that are lacking in a persons life while MBTI as well as Engaging (Living) Your Strengths (strengths analysis) choose to focus more on the whole picture and the "positive" or more polished side of my personality and skill set.

Am I getting that right? if so, what's the better angle in your opinion? Strength focus or working to bring those lower numbers up?


Woo, Communication, Maximizer, Positivity, Activator

Can't remember my EQ number....I'm sure it was high (Haha)