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IQ is dead!

Part one: Emotional Intelligence 101

The one thing that tickles me endlessly on Thought Leader is the creativity in mixing serious issues of national concern with rib-cracking humour. I find some of the humour deliciously irreverent, and often laced with allegedly life-changing “lessons” and self-deprecating tips on how to cope with crap from fellow humans, especially the one in the mirror.

So, what is this “IQ is dead” thing that I am on about? Recently, psychologists have said that our IQs are not exactly what they are hyped up to be. They are not the most accurate known measurements of human intelligence. Apparently my IQ gives a very limited and rather skewed idea of my human capabilities. I am not very chuffed with the fact that recent studies by renowned psychologists (most of them in Europe and the US, unfortunately for us) suggest that it is emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) that matters the most in how one turns out in life. To prove this theory at face value, they say, just take a look at the kinds of business leaders around us, or the politicians who assume control of top political office all around the world.

The school system is a farce. Bantu education was worse. Well, maybe it was better than no education at all (but it was still crap). Now we have the indignity of having the most violent schools on Earth. Ja, the global education system is a farce. But don’t tell that to your kids (or anyone else’s). School is good … if you survive it. The point of this piece is that there is much more to human abilities than the conventional measurements of capability, intelligence and achievement are designed to reveal. This is where EQ comes into effect as the difference between OK and outstanding.

And then there is the puzzle of many school drop-outs becoming multibillionaires. Take a look at the likes of Richard Branson and good old nerdy Bill Gates. We have heard stories that these great guys were deemed hopeless at school or college, and the measures of capability then were either inadequate for them or simply inadequate.

These guys were virtually found to be too “dof” for promotion to the next grade, and they are among the most influential human beings alive today. IQ, my foot. These guys have something else better and bigger than IQ. They live and lead by their EQ, their ability to tune into theirs and others’ emotions, their inherent humane intelligence that we all possess, and things start to unravel around them.

Here’s the rub: at best, most of us are a bundle of emotions swirling around and grasping at our assumed and (well-)constructed identities. No, my dear TL blog reader, this is not a piece on existentialism. It is a toast to the power of emotional intelligence to raise the bar of human achievement to another level that IQ cannot reach. It is a celebration of the inherent intelligence that is in all of us. It is somehow heartening to know that my IQ is not all that it is hailed to be, that there is something else that can shape who I become other than a technical measurement on which I cannot really put a finger.

More people are taking the trouble to read stacks of books on this subject, and with good reason too. The common lack of this growing emotional intelligence is the very reason we find ourselves sitting with not only the kind of leadership we have, the kinds of service delivery we have, and the kind of cancerous and chronically negative mindsets we have to endure daily.

So, again, what exactly is this emotional intelligence stuff?

It is ubuntu intelligence. I have written before about the power of ubuntu in helping us connect to our inherent humanity in ourselves and in each other. Reuel Khoza is one of the first South African business leaders and authors who has written about the important role of EI and ubuntu in Mzansi business. He hails EI and ubuntu as the one combination of business tools that Africa can export. Allow me to quote an American writer on this. Daniel Goleman, a renowned expert on leadership and emotional intelligence, has defined EI as: “The capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” So it is all about awareness, right?

The gurus of this fascinating subject say that when I am aware of myself, my thoughts, my feelings in each moment … then I am close to being emotionally intelligent. But who keeps track of their thoughts and feelings every moment? When would I get some work done, then? They say I would have to multitask on this one. There is more. The emotionally intelligent say that it is great to live in a “constant state of full awareness”.

Apparently the fun in pursuing EQ starts when I start being aware of what lies behind moments such as when I suddenly feel hot under the collar, or when someone calls me a racist pig or anything derogatory that presses my buttons. When someone calls me names … the worst kind … it is not about me. It is that person’s story, their drama, literally, or their issues coming out, and not mine. So I have to learn to laugh at it. And not take it personally. Easier said … but do-able.

Part two of this piece is more interesting, I promise. It looks at why business and political leaders must be emotionally intelligent. There is no suggestion here that politicians who sing and dance with their supporters are more emotionally intelligent than those who are allegedly aloof and detached. It’s always best to work with concrete data and not hearsay on such matters …


  • Dumi works with people. He does not like boxes and pigeon holes, especially those that we like to slot others into in our minds. He tries not to judge or label anyone, and does his best to take everyone as they show up, and not as as he would have them show up. He is an avid reader, and is fascinated by people's reactions to their own mirror images and to change, all kinds of change. He is an aspiring, eclectic, writer. He writes about anything that catches his fancy, mainly about people and their stories, real or imagined. His message? 'No boxes please, we are still evolving...'


  1. Llewellyn Kriel Llewellyn Kriel 6 February 2008

    I hope part 2 also explains this ethereal diaphanous spectral ubuntu thing. The more I learn about it the more I can see it as the very cause of everything that is going haywire in Africa today. And probably why it didn’t work so well against the Greeks, Romans, Goths, Vikings, Visigoths, Huns, Persians, Mongols and on and on and on all the way to Queen Vicky.

    The EQ/IQ debate has been raging since the late 80s and so far protagonists on either side seem to egage in little other childish “my-dad’s-bigger-than-your-dad” rondelay. The most recent study I saw indicated that, despite decades of detractors, IQ testing has “stood the test of time” while EQ – and I think it is absolutely vital! – has floundered about like a barbel in a drying Botswana waterhole – your can see better what it is now that it’s more exposed, but its future doesn’t look too bright.

    I still cannot fathom how the God-created individual who has the power to change the world can fit comfortably into the hive mentality of the new colonialism – ubuntu. And clever use of IQ leads to things like the Human Genome Project, nano-technology and Wikipedia. The clever use of EQ is called manipulation – Glenn Close’s character in “Damages” epitomises it perfectly.

    C’mon Part the 2nd!

  2. Taxman Taxman 6 February 2008

    Ubuntu’s a myth.

  3. Mandrake Mandrake 6 February 2008

    Interesting article. i work for a multinational, global giant and the main entry requirement is to pass an internal psychomentric exam.

    2 scores are deduced from this exam and kept on company file and will influence any job you might apply for till you leave the company or cease to have interest in breathing.

    my main question has always been about someone who takes test straight after varsity, nervous and jumpy. should their once test results affect the poor oke after 12 years experience when he’s done a 180degree in his life and has gained some uncalculatable experience?

    i’d say no…but i’ve done venting about this issue at my current work-place as its unlikely to chance.

  4. Owen Owen 6 February 2008

    The day we did an IQ test in school (many years ago) I wanted to go and play rugby so I filled in the mulitple choice form at random, and guess what I had a middle IQ (forget the actual score).

    Hence I have little respect for such tests.

  5. Luzuko Gongxeka Luzuko Gongxeka 6 February 2008

    EQ over IQ? That sound no more than an eloquent and ‘(well-)constructed’ society of words, glorifying the vanity of the one side of a coin while vilifying the other. More like saying, ‘better God than Jesus, coz the former couldn’t have been cruxified’.

    What would the world be without a healthy IQ?

  6. cool down. cool down. 6 February 2008

    There are various models to test IQ. Guilford
    developed the cubical model of intelligenc.
    each of the 120 small cubes presented a primary
    ability that is a combination of operations.products and contents.

    operations would include,evaluation,convergent production,divergent production,memory,cognition.
    Products,would be units,classes,relations,systems,tranformations,implications. Contents would be,figural,symbolic,semantic,behavioral.

    divergent thinking would be closely related creative thinking,convergent thinking would lead to one single correct answers.

    If I rember correctly,hell it such a long time ago
    I was forced to study this,Wechlers distrubtion
    of IQ’s with a standard deviation of 15 would
    place 59 % of the population in the average bracket
    between 85-109. 16 % blow that from bordeline to
    profoundly mentally retarded. 25% would range
    from bright normal to very superior (2,2%).

    Now as I had to marry a wife in the superior to very superior bracket I have to be very careful of how I express myself unless I want to find myself
    So it is best I stop right here and leave you with some thought for thoughtand leave it to the
    very superior ones to figure out how many combinations are possible in Guilford Cubical model
    of intelligence.

    Good for me although it was never an exam question
    I would still like to know the answer.

    All I am able to remember is that if you wanted
    to measure volume it would be something like axaxa=a/3.

    But this is not what is reguired. (a) (6 products)
    followed by (a) (5 operations) followed by (a) (4 contents).

    No prize for the first correct answer as I dont
    know what it is.

    So over to AK and mates.

  7. Ron Ron 6 February 2008

    @Llew and Mandrake
    I did the Myers Briggs (MBTI) psychometric test a few months ago and the psychologist mentioned that people within jobs could change from say a grade 1 introvert (autistic), to something approaching an extrovert; as his/her expertise and self confidence increased. The MBTI test is therefore not a static evaluation, but only intended to show strengths, weakness and suitability for a particular job, as well as indicating compatibilities within a particular workplace ethos

    Yes! and ubuntu is strictly for bee collectives and not for Uman beans or political parties.

    Note to Llew: I have a copy of the Simpson’s version of the MBTI test – do ya wanna?

  8. Craig Craig 6 February 2008

    It is fair to say that you may not turn out to be successful just because you score well on an IQ test.

    What I think you are missing is that people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson – regardless of college performances – are exceptionally intelligent in their own areas. There is no ‘uBuntu’ at play there at all. They are exceptional INDIVIDUALS.

    Bottom line is that some people are more intelligent than others – or to phrase it differently – some people are able to think better about certain problems than others.

  9. Llewellyn Kriel Llewellyn Kriel 6 February 2008

    @ Ron – bring it on!

    I have done and conducted just about every test that measures anything from your girlfriend’s propensity for vaginitis to the runic symbols of Bratislovak goatherds’ buttock pimples. The truth is … they’re all true.

    It depends solely on what you want them to say.

    The only test I have consistently found delivbers the same result is the one they do for colour blindness – you know, with the little coloured dots and splodges and you’re supposed to see numbers or letters or something in them. Me? I see squat. I am truly medically-proven colour-blind. Sorry to disappoint all of you who have labelled me racist and Nazi and Spawn of Satan and the love-child of Ozzy Osbourne and Marilyn Manson. I can’t distinguish colours. And that thoroughly screwed me in the Navy.

    I call it discrimination based on colour. But do you think my application for CEO of Eskom was successful? Do you think I get the AAA and R13-million bonus for pitching up?

    Everything else is true – and the Greys are really heavily into the anal probe thing. What for I don’t know. The only other test that is always right is the one to find out if your girlfriend is ticklish. Just give her a test tickle … works everytime, every where.

  10. George George 6 February 2008

    I tend to agree with Craig. Over the years i have found that as i grow older i appeal more to my inept ability than to stuff learned from books. I can think on the fly and make decisions very quickly. Ubuntu is misapplied to be everything. It cannot be a sustitute for ability. Human sensitivities are important in todays work environment because of the melting pot of cultures and so one need to be aware of these issues in order to negotiate his way in this complex human superhighway. So whether IQ or EQ, what is more important is self application and that inept ability. I have a sister who is a nurse but has immense intelligent and as such whatever she does, she excels. So some people can solve the maths but still be functionally dull.

  11. Robin Grant Robin Grant 6 February 2008

    Bill Gates and Richard Branson are really poor examples of high school drop-outs becoming successful . The reality behind both of these success stories is that they both come from relatively wealthy families. they used their family wealth, connections and culture to become successful. I grant that they did become successful, but there are really very few successful businessmen of their calibre on earth who were high school drop-outs from the public school system, and made it that big.

  12. Phil Craig Phil Craig 6 February 2008

    Bit spooky this one.

    I noticed on another post “Consulting engineer” making references to the different IQ’s of various races. Given his politics, he was at pains to point out how inferior the IQ’s were of black Africans, compared to just about everyone else.

    I was convinced this was absolute rubbish, and set out to verify the facts only to confirm that he was in-fact correct, and Black Africans have the lowest IQ’s of any race on earth, whilst Asians from Hong Kong are the highest, as i understand it.

    Before the AWB leap to too many conclusions though, please note that the same tests state the Afrikaners have a lower IQ than the South African English.

    Have to confess to finding this all quite shocking, and more than a little thought provoking. Haven’t even got near a conclusion, but then your article.

    Maybe you guys have a better EQ than us Whiteys?

  13. Gustav Venter Gustav Venter 6 February 2008

    Robin… err, you got your facts on Bill Gates rather muddled up. He did finish high school and was a student at Harvard when the computer revolution dislodged him from his studies. It is grossly unfair to say that his success was due to his family’s wealth. He is, contrary to urban myth, an enormously intelligent man with incredible vision and what he would term “bandwidth.” We don’t need to like him. But we should admire him.

    On the subject of IQ: The reason for the popular Western assault on it is that its consistent implementation is at odds with affirmative action policies especially in the United States. Still, national IQ remains a very good indicator of a country’s wealth and health. We can ignore these facts but they won’t go away. And, yes, races have hugely varying average IQ’s. Asians, for instance, have on average a considerable IQ-advantage over Europeans. We whiteys must learn to accept it and deal with it. Dismissing IQ-testing won’t make this difference disappear.

  14. Dumisani Dumisani 6 February 2008

    Interesting comments. Ubuntu is not something that you read about and then you can start practicing immediately. It grows in and with you as you literally evolve into a human being connected to your inner humane-ness. All the IQ tests in the world Llewellyn, Craig, Luzuko, George, Ron and especially Cool Down (and others) will NOT determine how functionally intelligent one really is. George you’re spot-on (in my Ubuntu books at least). I enjoyed your comment about what happens as you grow older: relying more on your internal radar system and not necessarily on what you got from books. Truth is we are shaped, designed and re-designed by our life-experiences as we go along, yet some things in our inherent being-ness remain virtually the same and constant, even in the face of the onslaught of how different we are, and that is our inherent humanity.

    What is interesting here is that many people have missed the point made that IQ on its own has very little use. It is the other human intelligences that take one to another level.

    Mandrake, keep shouting about it at work… those psycho-metric tests cannot tell the story about how good you are in whatever you do, ever.

    Yes Owen, Ubuntu will remain a myth if you don’t seek to understand the deeper value of your very existence. Ubuntu calls for a deeper introspection to connect to … (a tough ask for many out there). Most of us always choose the easier route and dismiss it off-hand as a myth or as the reason for the looting of world resources even. Llewellyn, maybe you’re right that Ubuntu is at the core of all Africa’s problems… Just because those who do not have the antennae for it ‘take advantage’ and manipulate, plunder and exploit (black and white alike by the way, yellow and green too!) does not make ubuntu the reason for people’s greed and avarice.

    May I add, and I hope you lynche me for it, that Ubuntu Intelligence is the one sure and fool-proof product that Africa can export to the rest of the world, and the world is ready for it. It is one of the things that cannot be easily extracted / mined, exploited and plundered. And it ranks high up there with the rest of the cutting edge knowledge economy products.

    I get a feeling I might have to write again in clear illustrations and elaborate on what Ubuntu really is, and dispell some of the skewed and selective ‘understandings’ of this amazing philosophy of life. Now I wonder what that triggered in you.

  15. Hinengaro Te Matapuna Hinengaro Te Matapuna 7 February 2008

    Kia ora Brother,
    I am a product of my country’s urge to rise and fix everything that goes wrong in my life – and if I let it continue, my silence allows them to open my door and tell me how lousy a mother I am, can I not feed my children properly, …”keep your children quiet so the rest of us might sleep our lives away”.

    I withdrew from school when I was 12. Though I had mindfully left it behind sometime earlier. I received accolades for my mathematic ability aged 15 and taught postgraduate matrix theory 16 by a family friend who thought maths was more of a game. 18 I found that I had been dubbed autistic, and I never felt more alone.

    I entered medical school aged 26, offered honors in all the scientific fields. Spent 6 years studying and failing miserably the last 2-3 years, The catastrophe outlined by constant forgetfulness. The more I learnt, the more I forgot. I left, before I failed again.

    I am 36 years old now, single mother of two. And I reject everything that I was taught in medical school. I have been diagnosed with bipolar, bankrupt (due to my extensive training), supported by social welfare, my home provided by another government department. I cannot speak my own language, and my own family will hold me at a distance with a broom. I do speak academic english – … which is actually broken english.

    And I have let them know brother, that this world we live in does not like to encourage us to trust ourselves. The law is for all people. And justice is blind.

    Someone needs to tell them that death is not an end, life is always about renewal.

    If I was part of a circle with my family, my side of the circle has only one voice. Trauma.

    One ocean, one land, one sky for all people.


  16. cool down. cool down. 7 February 2008

    You may have a point,but it also true that
    there are many succesful and lesser known succesful
    businessman.Not many of my generation made it to
    matric (grade 12) because economic circumstances
    forced them to quit school after standard 8 (grade
    10). They simply had to find jobs to support
    their struggling families.

    My father in law managed standard 6 (grade 8)
    but became a very succesful traindriver doing
    his apprenticeship as a stoker.

    My dad made standard 5 (grade 7) left school
    and enrolled as an prentice to become a very
    succesful plumber and fitter.

    His first job was to sweep the workshop floors
    and clean the artisans tools, before he was allowed
    to use them. Now just imagine that at the age
    of 14 you have been sweeping floors and cleaning
    tools for a number of years.

    Regulated working hours did not exist, you worked
    from dusk to dawn, for a pittance.I walked 14 miles to a job to assist him. We, my younger and
    I earned 10 shillings (R1-00) 50c each for
    a days work.Admittedly money was still worth
    something in those days.

    So much for the fable that all whites were rich,
    a fable and lie still maintained by the present

    The majority of whites lived on properties heavily
    subsidized, which allowed them to obtain bonds
    far exceeding what their actual salary permitted.

    These housing subsidy schemes by the State,province
    and local authorities were heavily exploited in
    the initial stages. So it is not only Blacks that can exploit schemes,they are in good company, a
    number of whites did it as well.

    Did it make us rich, no it did not,it allowed us
    to enjoy a comfartable lifestyle which our straight
    pay did not permit.

    This is also happening today, in generous car allowances, medical scheme contributions etc.

    So I reckon if you fuel the economy by inflated
    consumer spending not based on real economic output
    and productivity, as inflation intends to distort
    everything, it is not surprising that our
    economic bubble is bound to burst sooner than

  17. Will Will 7 February 2008

    “please note that the same tests state the Afrikaners have a lower IQ than the South African English.”

    That would be because Afrikaners have about a 7% admixture of non-white blood. Their Dutch ancestry would actually predict the opposite, since the Netherlands have an average 104 IQ compared to the UK’s 98. Admixture also explains why American blacks average an 85 IQ compared to African blacks’ 72 IQ.

  18. Mac Mac 7 February 2008

    Dear Dumisani

    I totally agree with your comment about the desirability of humour in blogs. Many blog correspondents should lighten up! I wonder in light of your discussion on IQ (intelligence quotient)whether there is such a thing as HQ (Humour Quotient)?

    IQ does well what it is designed to do – measure IQ. Theory and practice have been shown to be scientifically robust and consistent in practice. For example, people tested when the were at school (in Scotland) have roughly the same scores after retirement. It’s been found that people with high IQs tend to have better jobs and live longer. But it is not an infallible guide to success.

    I illustrate this below:

    Bob Rae, a left-wing politician, who rose to become Premier of the richest province in Canada (Ontario), had an exceptional IQ and had obtained a Rhodes Scholarship to prove it. Some people called him a “bright Rae” (because his name is pronounced “Ray”). His reign over the province was such a disaster, bringing ruin on the erstwhile prosperous province. To balance the provincial books he demanded (and succeeded through legislation) that provincial bureaucrats, teachers, doctors, the police etc work unpaid for one day a week!

    I would like to propose a new test – the MQ (Morality Quotient) – to determine who is likely to get to the top, and it be made a requirement for politicians especially. The score would be adjusted to 100 for the average person; a low score near zero would only be achievable by deities or the brain-dead. The higher the score, the more immoral and this would (in my estimation) correlate with people in high positions. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, Idi Amin, Napoleon and the like would obviously be high scorers; but I wonder where the lesser likes – Mbeki, Zuma, Bill Gates, Ted Kennedy, Soros, to name just a few – would come in the scoring.

    EQ, although an interesting hypothesis, is not scientifically proven at this stage.

  19. Taxman Taxman 7 February 2008

    Ubuntu’s a very convenient myth. It’s like “nirvana”. Attempts are being made here by Dumisane to infuse it with so much woolly mysticism that only spiritually-enlightened people of the African persuasion are even capable of grasping it. It’s an exclusivist notion.

    But it’s a myth, all the same. It actually doesn’t exist.

  20. Dumisani Dumisani 7 February 2008

    Hi Mac
    You make some very good points in your comment. Would be interesting to see how our politicians score in a Morality Quotiant test. How do you see George Bush scoring?
    Another thing Mac, EQ is ‘scientifically’ testable and measurable. Note, also, that there are other ways of knowing and learning besides western and others ‘sciences’, and they work just fine too, if not better than our beloved science. Yes science or the scientific way, is the dominant ‘knowledge paradigm’ of our time, but it is by no means the best one for all types of learning or knowing every truth. All it is …is another box that sooner or later we have to learn to think outside of… sweetest of ironies that.

    Thanks for sharing Mac

  21. cool down. cool down. 8 February 2008

    It is unfair to arrive at conclusions which one
    cannot substantiate, beause it is simply impossible
    to test the whole population. So as I have
    stated in earlier post IQ tests can vary widely
    and the fact that there are tests with standard
    deviations of 15 indicates that we simply struggle
    to measure IQ.

    The conclusion that certain races are more intelligent rests on the basis of certain assumptions, resulting in numerous theories.

    The fact that nobydy has endeavoured to answer
    my simple question of the number of possible
    combinations possible in the Guilford cubical
    model proves my point.

    If we arrive at that answer we will see that
    human ingenuity is not simply arrived at by testing.The answer will reveal endless combinations
    and each combination will expose a different,although sometimes related abilty.

    Tests are therefore only indicators of
    future behaviour,but as emotions,trauma
    lack of feeding,environment play a crucial role
    it is not fair to expect the same results from
    different population groups who live under
    different circumstances.

  22. Will Will 8 February 2008

    Dumisani, how robust are these EQ-tests? We know that in IQ-tests it is the case that if Johnny outscores Rick on test A he will in all likelihood outscore him in test B, C, D etc as well. Has the EQ-concept been proven in this way?

    Also, is there a correlation between IQ and EQ? We know that sociopathic behaviour, which I surmise would be indicative of low EQ, is strongly associated with low IQ.

  23. Mac Mac 8 February 2008

    Hi Dumisani

    There is a better way to evaluate EQ than by the scientific method? Sorry, but you have lost me bro’. Maybe because of my low EQ, I don’t understand this ubuntu thing.

    Forgive me, but I’m not well versed in the Afringlish (I was in exile for too long). Mind you, I’m no slouch in languages; I’ve mastered Ameringlish, Indinglish, Teeningrish and Caribbenglish and now I’m learning Newspeak (using George Orwell’s phrase book).

    Would ubuntu equate with good old fashioned word “socialism”? You know the philosophy that has the mantra “one for all and all for one person”?

  24. cool down. cool down. 19 February 2008

    Would you’re saying sounds more like the pledge
    by the ‘Three musketeers’

    Socialism is a political system that aims to create
    a society in which everyone has equal oppurtunities
    and in which the most important industries
    are owned and controled by the whole community.
    ( they tried this in the argriculture sector and
    most of them are miserable failures)

    Capitalism on the other hand would be
    a system in which property,businesses and industry
    are owned by individual people and not the Government.( Unfortunately this led to extremely
    wealthy individuals and explotation of labour)

    Communism is a political and economic system in
    which there is mo private ownership of property
    or industry and in which people of all social
    classes are treated equally.( This was tried
    and has failed whereever it was practised)

    So which one do you prefer and what do you think we have at the moment and in which direction do
    you think we are heading under the ANC?

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