Understanding your own innate ratio of the 3 factors for business aptitude can give you insights on your professional behavior, making you a more effective employee or business leader.
When I hear people talk about the factors that determine one’s professional competencies, they’re usually focused on just 2 traits: intelligence and emotional awareness.
Observing the combination of these 2 things usually yields a result that almost gets it right…but they are missing one extra component that really makes a difference.
I firmly believe that extra something is grit.
Intelligence and empathy can get you pretty far, but you can’t quite reach your fullest potential without the drive to put your nose to the grindstone and get things done.
From my perspective, these are the three factors that determine business performance, and the ratio of these 3 ingredients–IQ, EQ, and grit–determine the behaviors of not just business leaders but employees and organizations as a whole:
Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
The first component in the trifecta for business aptitude is IQ, which stands for intelligence quotient. It’s the way to measure one’s innate capacity for reason and logic.
Some of the core factors that contribute to a strong IQ are an ability to recall information and problem solve.
Individuals with high IQ are thought to be highly intelligent—but also very literal. They often think in absolutes and struggle to see beyond black-or-white answers.
I think of IQ as the measure of a trait you need to be able to do things: It’s what you need to have to be able to problem solve, work things out, and make progress.
Emotional Quotient (EQ)
Ingredient number two is the emotional quotient, or EQ. It’s the measure of one’s ability to accept and process their own emotions as well as demonstrate empathy toward others.
The greatest strength in people with high EQ is their ability to communicate. They are exceptional at reading and connecting with others, and are usually great at tuning in to others’ needs.
For me, EQ is what you need to be able to sell and market your business.
Those with strong emotional intelligence are typically more successful in networking and promotional efforts due to their strength as communicators: Through effective communication, they are able to help others recognize and understand proposed business solutions.
Conversely, those who lack the ability to communicate, empathize, and listen aren’t usually the people you want to do business with.
The final, often overlooked ingredient is grit–AKA a solid work ethic.
While there is no standardized measurement system for grit like there is for IQ and EQ, I think grit is most easily identified and measured through one’s actions.
Those with a strong work ethic tend to routinely set goals for themselves and strive to accomplish them with a do whatever it takes attitude. Because of this, these individuals produce results—and their actions speak for themselves.
I think of grit as the trait that motivates. It’s all about willpower and the dedication to accomplishing what one sets out to do.
The Results of Different Ratios
So, IQ, EQ, and grit are the ingredients that determine business performance–but it takes more than ingredients to make a recipe.
Just like the ratio of sugar to butter to flour affects how a batch of cookies will turn out, the ratio of IQ, EQ, and grit affects how businesses, leaders, and employees function.
Let’s look at some of the work, leadership, and business styles that result from different IQ—EQ—grit ratios.
Above-Average IQ; Below-Average EQ/Grit
With all intelligence and no empathy/drive, you end up with someone great at solving complex problems—but unable to communicate effectively or motivate themselves.
An example of this would be a software genius who develops a revolutionary solution that never takes off.
Why? Because they aren’t able to effectively communicate how their product solves a problem, and they lack the drive to do what it takes to be successful (such as finding a business partner who can more effectively sell their product.)
This goes to show that even if you have the brainpower to make something incredible, there’s a limit to how far you can go without effective communication and the drive to make it successful.
Because of this, these individuals rarely make effective leaders. They depend on external forces to guide them to success by keeping them on track and managing communications on their behalf.
Above-Average EQ; Below-Average IQ/Grit
On the other hand, an individual whose only strength is their EQ can get themselves a bit further. While they lack the analytical skills of someone with a high IQ, their charm is often enough to bring them a moderate level of success.
But the major downfall of these individuals is their lack of grit. Without a strong work ethic, these are the salesmen looking for the easiest and fastest way to sell you something.
While they may be likable and personable, they are typically restricted by their dependency on others to solve problems and their unwillingness to go above and beyond.
Above-Average Grit; Below-Average IQ/EQ
Then you have the workhorses–the people who are dedicated to giving things 110% effort—in spite of their other shortcomings.
While these individuals tend to be exceptional at manual tasks, they are hindered by their inability to connect with others and to problem solve with reason. As such, they lack scalability, and most often find themselves stuck in one role or line of work perpetually.
These are the most extreme examples, but when we start considering different ratios of these elements, we can begin to recognize examples in a lot of famous leaders.
Above-Average IQ/EQ; Below-Average Grit
Here, you have an example of someone very smart and convincing, but not looking to work hard. You can think of this ratio as the “get rich quick” aficionado.
The first example of this particular ratio that comes to mind is Bernie Madoff, infamous for leading the most monumental Ponzi scheme in history.
To pull this off, you have to be both intelligent and seemingly trustworthy…but without the desire to work hard and do things the right way, you end up with someone who’s just looking for a shortcut.
Above-Average IQ/Grit; Below-Average EQ
These are people with a high level of reasoning and the willingness to put in effort, but who lack the knowledge or capacity to communicate with others effectively.
For me, I immediately think of Mark Zuckerberg. There’s no question that he’s a highly intelligent and hard-working person, but he is publicly mocked for being a robot with an apparent inability to demonstrate empathy.
Zuckerberg happens to be an example of an extremely successful leader who lacks emotional intelligence, but it’s hardly the norm. More often than not, you’ll find that people lacking EQ either fail to achieve success due to their shortcomings in communication or rely on others to handle communications for them while they work behind the scenes.
Above-Average EQ/Grit; Below-Average IQ
In my opinion, if you can only have 2 of these traits, I’d say these are the 2 you want. These are people who are able to connect with others and are willing to work hard but lack a degree of reasoning and aptitude.
This is seen pretty commonly in business, where a hardworking and charismatic CEO partners with a CTO to handle more complex, technical matters.
The Golden Ratio
Above-Average IQ, EQ, and Grit
Finally, we have what I consider to be the golden ratio: a person who is emotionally intelligent, scholastically accomplished, and willing to work hard.
These are people with the intellect to create innovative solutions, the charisma to communicate those solutions to others, and the dedication to make their solutions successful.
It’s by far the least common ratio to find but, in my opinion, these are the people who have a giant head start in starting and running their own business without the need to fill major gaps with equity partners.
Strengthening Your Success Ratio
Obviously, not every successful person has this golden ratio of IQ, EQ, and grit.
And even though I’ve said that I think you need all three to effectively run a business by yourself, I don’t necessarily think you need all three to be successful.
In the absence of the golden ratio, one can achieve success if they are able to self-reflect with honesty, take stock of their strengths and weaknesses, and identify the areas where they need support or personal development.
Additionally, I believe from personal experience that all three of these key traits can be nurtured over time:
If you take the time to study and learn new ways to apply yourself, I think it’s possible to increase your base level of intelligence and aptitude.
While I wasn’t the greatest student in grade school, I learned how to strengthen my intellectual aptitude in college not only by studying but also by practicing how to apply that knowledge to my advantage for problem solving and critical thinking.
You can definitely strengthen your emotional intelligence by learning how effective communicators around you handle things.
I picked this up in my youth by watching and learning from my family, who ran their own business. As they dealt with employees, coworkers, and customers, I was able to observe and reflect on how they handled those interactions.
Thanks to them, I learned how important it is to communicate and listen.
I think grit has to be the hardest to develop of the three. It’s a trait that’s born of habits developed at a young age, so it would take a revolutionary amount of effort to try to alter these habits later in life.
I’m grateful to have started working when I was 12 because it gave me the opportunity to get used to hard work early on. There’s no doubt that the younger you are when you start to acquire your work ethic, the easier it is to embrace hard work rather than fear it.
Identifying and defining this secret recipe for success is just half of the equation: The other half is using it to help rising generations develop the tools they need to become the best leaders they can be.
The way I see it, we have a mission to nurture these three components–IQ, EQ, and grit–in today’s young people. This is how we can do our part to create an exciting future for individuals who are able to play to their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and dedicate themselves to the pursuit of this golden ratio.