Sorting Out the Qs: IQ – EQ – CQ©
What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Measuring effective teams can be confusing. Here are three assessments and what they do – and don’t – measure.


An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from a set of standardized tests or subtests designed to assess human intelligence. The abbreviation “IQ” was coined by the psychologist William Stern for the German term Intelligenzquotient, his term for a scoring method for intelligence tests at University of Breslau he advocated in a 1912 book.

IQ provides an idea of cognitive ability compared to the general population. It scores our ability to solve problems, reason and recognize relationships, part but not all of intelligence. The IQ test is more about how well you understand things than the quantity of how much you know. IQ levels cannot be changed much.

Encourage your team members to use their IQ to look for the reasons and building blocks for what they think to be true.


An emotional quotient (EQ) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s). Although the term first appeared in 1964, it gained popularity in the 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman.

EQ includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. An individual can learn about and improve EQ.

Encourage your team members to use EQ to empathize the reasons for others’ assumptions, critical for effective communications and positive relationship building.


Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is a person’s capability to functional effectively at work in a variety of cultural contexts – both internationally and domestically. CQ measurements can include capabilities – Drive, Knowledge, Strategy and Action. It can also include an assessment of a person’s cultural values. See the Cultural Intelligence Center’s overview.

A person’s home culture is familiar because we have a wealth of information, conscious and subconscious, to help us make sense of what is going on. When someone interacts with individuals with a different cultural background, the same cues may mean something completely different. While cultural values are more hardwired than capabilities, assessing both provides a set of tools for self-awareness and for predicting the actions of others.

Encourage your team members to use CQ to fully appreciate the cultural contexts of their own decisions as well as those of others – both internal and external clients. The contributions of all team members will be ensured by the elimination of bias, and it will improve the bottom line of the organization.

IQ, EQ and CQ overlap but are not the same. All three are important to work settings; an agile leader knows how to deploy them for optimal advantage.

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