Project Success?
Agile Project Management Viewed from Behavioral Science

Assessing Your Emotional Capital

Expectation Heart Dream Trust IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and IQ tests that attempt to measure intelligence are well known. However, IQ is not a good predictor of how successful you will be in life, or how effective and valued you will be at work.

Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), is a different measure that describes the ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups.

“Research shows convincingly that EQ is more important than IQ in almost every role and many times more important in leadership roles. This finding is accentuated as we move from the control philosophy of the industrial age to an empowering release philosophy of the knowledge worker age.” - Stephen Covey

So since software is a knowledge worker activity, and agile methods promote an empowering release philosophy, for leaders of agile projects EQ is of special importance. How can we measure our EQ? Well Martyn Newman’s Emotional Capital Inventory (ECI) is a great place to start. This online assessment scores participants against the 10 EQ dimensions of:

1. Self-Awareness
2. Self-Confidence
3. Self-Reliance
4. Self-Actualization
5. Assertiveness
6. Relationships Skills
7. Empathy
8. Self-Control
9. Flexibility
10. Optimism readers are invited to take the short version of the assessment for free, just follow this link. Free Emotional Capital Inventory Test.


I recently read an early release copy of Martyn Newman’s “Emotional Capitalists: The New Leaders” book and was impressed. Several years ago I finally realized that successful projects are more about people and less about processes and tools. A Computer Science degree and 20 years of technical experience had not equipped me for the role of managing teams. Since then my studies have been focussed on the higher leverage area of people and team dynamics more than project management mechanics. You definitely need the mechanics to run projects, but usually the final outcome comes down to people.

Reuven Bar-On was amongst the pioneers to write about Emotional Intelligence and Daniel Goleman helped bring the subject to the business world with his Emotional Intelligence best seller. I liked these books and agreed with all the points raised, but often finished a book without a clear action plan for what I should start doing differently tomorrow.

What I like best about Emotional Capitalists is the practical nature of the advice given. Not only are the concepts explained clearly with entertaining stories, but each chapter is followed with a one page action plan summary, the advice is very accessible whereas some other books on EQ are more theoretical.

Sample EQ Graph  

Bad News and Good News
The bad news is your IQ peaks in your teens and from there on declines. The good news is that IQ is not a great predictor of happiness or success anyway, EQ is a better predictor of these, and EQ peaks in your late forties and early fifties so we have more time to practice and improve.

(As an aside, I think it is interesting how in our optimism we gravitate towards metrics that suit our circumstances. We are getting older and not any smarter, but hey, that’s OK, here’s a different score that we look better against! Maybe this is being wiser rather than smarter. Since turning forty my chances of running a sub 3hr marathon or sub 36 minute 10K again have approached zero, however I now use Age Weighted Scores and, problem solved, I’m not getting slower (well I am) but I can now compare my times against others my own age and use that as a metric for performance.) 

Anyway, have a look at the assessment, if nothing else it will familiarize you with some aspects of Emotional Intelligence that are critical to being successful today. Thanks again to Martyn Newman for giving a free trial of the tool for readers of this blog. The book covers many great topics that I plan to write on in the future, but for now I will end with some of my favourite quotes:

"You can’t lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse" - John Peters

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others" - Jack Welch

"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen" - Henry David Thoreau

"To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great" - Friedrich Hegel

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance” - Bruce Barton

"If leadership is ultimately the art of accomplishing extraordinary things with ordinary people then building emotional capital is how you achieve it" – Martyn Newman


Project Management Tools & Techniques

This is a very good point. There's a long-term transition from being good at executing on instructions (as a worker) to being good at managing a team (as a leader). Often, people who are great at executing are awful at instructing, at least at first. The good news is that we can all grow and adapt. As you pointed out, leadership skills peak much later than intellectual ability.

However, it would be good to see some sources. It looks like IQ correlates strongly with income, especially for jobs like management and research, whereas all I could find for Emotional Intelligence and income was this study claiming that richer parents had kids with higher emotional intelligence.

Also, IQ can't peak during adolescence. It's a measure of intelligence relative to peer groups, so a ten-year-old with an IQ of 120 would have the same test scores as the average 12-year-old. IQ is set up so that the average IQ for each age group is 100. Intelligence itself might peak in adolescence, though -- but the decline is slow.

Aside from those quibbles, interesting post!

Steve Campbell

Thanks for the book recommendation.

Minor factual correction: The info that IQ peaks is outdated and damaging. It does not in fact peak, and can be grown at any time simply by exercising using your mind. You *can* be smarter!

(Its dangerous as a "fact" because stating it demotivates children who do not think they are smart).

Mike Griffiths

Hi Steve, and PM Tool & Techniques person

Thanks for your comments, you are correct that IQ models have changed and modern scores known as "deviance IQ" are less age specific, while the older method age-specific scores are referred to as "ratio IQ." I should have clarified this but really just wanted to get onto the topic of EQ. The concept of exercising your mind does indeed improve your IQ test results, although some (Jaeggi, et al) attribute a portion of the results to learning how to better answer IQ type questions than purely increased intelligence.

Anyway, while my intent was to help introduce some ideas around EQ, I recognize I over simplified the topic of IQ. I appreciate your clarifications; thanks for reading and commenting.

Best regards

Julian Bradder

A very enjoyable post to read. I've never been particularly happy that IQ tests measure a broad spectrum of intelligence, more an ability to resolve a small spectrum of problems. I couldn't agree more that the ability to understand and manage others in context with your own behaviour is vital.

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