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Two important differences in organizational behavior are cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence. The following essay evaluates theoretical and practical strengths and limitations of both intelligences and discusses the application of each in modern organisations. Modern organisations face differing challenges to those of the previous century, high turn-over, globalization and the rapid development of ever changing technology all require special attention.
It has never been more important to find the right person for the right job. General mental ability does not give the whole picture. There is a link between cognitive and emotional intelligence, each being important contributors to modern organisations.
Cognitive intelligence (CI) has traditionally been the indicator of successful job performance (Bosco, Nathan, & Allen, 2012). Organisational psychology uses cognitive ability to predict workplace success (Neisser et al., 1996). Cognitive intelligence can be generally defined as academic ability, IQ or general mental ability, including the ability to critically think and reason logically, to analyse and problem solve, as well as individual aptitude in reading and writing (Sternberg, 2006). CI is a valuable asset in employees, particularly in some specialist fields where critical thinking, logic and reason are required, occupations such as scientific researchers, accountants, economists etc. The capacity of all workers to engage cognitive intelligence in quick and effective decision making serves as an important basis for achieving successful outcomes in the most workplaces. Patton (2003) found a consequence of the developing business climate is the global economy and the Internet, each necessitating an increased speed of communications in business transactions. Decisive leaders are forced to make timely decisions without consult and all the data on hand, such an environment necessitates in the need for higher levels of general mental ability in order to achieve both increased levels and faster acquisition of job knowledge, thus leading to greater levels of job performance (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). CEO of Southwest
Airlines, James Patton, displayed the importance of quick and effective decision making when facing a crisis on September 11, 2001. When planes where grounded and millions of passengers stranded, Patton decided that customers and staff would come first. No employees were required to stand down or take pay cuts, and passengers were given hassle free refunds, furthermore, Southwest employees were encouraged to take passengers to a movie or bowling to pass the time while awaiting news. In the aftermath of 9/11, while most airlines were reducing their workforces by 20% Southwest announced a $179.8 million profit sharing program for employees and managed to retain all staff (Gittell et el, 2006). Other examples of CI are literacy skills, such as reading and writing which are major tools of modern day businesses: emails, documents and various other item of paperwork require high levels of accuracy for effective communication, efficiency on computers and an ability to learn new technology is important in this information world. McKenney, Copeland, Copeland and Mason (1995) propose that the revolution in communications and information technology should be considered as a dominant force in recent social and economic change. Although CI is undeniably important in establishing an efficient workforce it is not the whole picture.
The value of cognitive intelligence is irrefutable however some limitations apply. Validities of predicting outcomes in real life are low. According to Viswevaran and Ones (2002), general mental ability accounts for only 25% variance in work performance. Furthermore, they suggest that intelligent behaviour is more than just the result of what intelligence tests measure. A practical example of the limitations of cognitive intelligence can be referred back to the other airlines effected by the 9/11 crisis. While Southwest airlines triumphed against adversary other airlines suffered greatly. There is no denying that the CEO’s of these struggling airlines were people of high cognitive intelligence, however, this personal asset alone was not enough to avoid financial losses, perhaps other ingredients such as emotional intelligence and adequate policies are still required in order to retain consumer trust. Other CI limitations include measurement, particularly IQ testing which may result in adverse impact against minorities (Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002).
Tests presented in a language other than an individual’s primary language as well as differing cultural approaches make the result of such tests weighted in favour of the culture that produced it. High IQ does not guarantee adequate function in the workplace. Highly gifted people are often underestimated and misunderstood by peers and society (Nauta & Corten, 2002). They may make ineffective leaders as staff may not appreciate their intensity, perfectionism, questioning, and being “too smart” Heylighten (n.d.). Furthermore, CI does not guarantee a good team player. Elkin and Burke (2008) report Steve Jobs, while an example of a successful individual with extremely high cognitive intelligence, is reputed to have been a tyrant to work for. Critics claim he took credit for ideas that were not his, was not a team player, and was impatient, domineering and obsessive, behaviour which is inducing of high staff turnover or low employee retention rates.
They also suggest Jobs strengths such as vision, magnetic charisma, perfectionism, all drove him to be a great CEO but are also the same drives that placed his company, staff and investors at risk. Highly intelligent individuals may have issues with delegation, trust, admitting error or asking for help. When compared to autonomous work, good teamwork enables tasks to be accomplished faster and more efficiently, reduces workloads, work pressure and improves staff relations (Kelly, 2004). Some highly intelligent people, such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome, may have low social skills. Individuals with Aspergers may test very highly on a CI tests but often their communication with others is blunt, awkward, stilted or odd (Shea, 2009). Saaty (1999) suggests that primary language expresses affections rather than ideas or thoughts. An inability to effectively communicate with consumers may result in difficult social relationships. While CI is indeed an important consideration in employee ability it is not a stand-alone measure of success.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is increasingly being viewed as having a significant influence on job performance and effective leadership in the workforce. A commonly referred to definition of EI was given by Mayer, Caruso and Salovey (1999) “Emotional intelligence refers to an ability to recognise the meanings of emotions and their relationships and to reason and problem solve on the basis of them. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions and manage them” (p. 267). EI reflects one’s capacity to cope with daily challenges and may assist in predicting both personal and professional success in life. Assets in any working relationship include social awareness, social networking, relationship management, self-awareness and self-management. While small business has long relied on understanding the importance of social networking and keeping healthy relationships and positive reputation in their community, new technology, globalization and social media now take social awareness and social networking to a whole new level.
According to Qualman (2009) global connectivity now results in both positive and negative messages regarding products and services becoming immediately, permanently and easily accessible to the whole world. EI is a valuable asset in employees, particularly in some specialist fields where charisma and empathy are required, such as, sales and marketing, counselling or nursing. Effective leaders, as part of their role in managing relationships, should embody competent levels of respect, empathy, courtesy, motivation and be able to inspire others. The importance of empathy can be illustrated by an American business called Toro who manufacture commercial lawn equipment. The nature of the product results in around 100 serious injuries annually, prior to the appointment of CEO Ken Melrose, Toro faced an average of 50 law suits per year, resulting in massive financial losses to the company. However, Melrose added empathy. Injured workers and their families where meet by company representatives, sympathies where expressed, investigations made and any needs were meet at the onset.
This change in policy has reduced the number of lawsuits from an average of 50 per year to only one since 1991 when the policy was introduced (Rainey, Chan & Begin, 2008). Furthermore, leaders need teams who are energetic, innovative, creative and passionate (Sloane, 2007). Understanding individual drives and motivations enables management to get the best results from their team. Effective management must be self-aware and have the ability to self-manage, including being aware of and managing moods, adapt appropriate emotions and behaviours to appropriate situations. Jack Welsh, Chairman of General Electric states that “A leader’s intelligence must have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control.’ (as cited in Balakrishanan & Mouli, 2011, p. 44). EI allows managers to get the best out of their employees. Perks (2007) advises that successful leaders are high in emotional intelligence; they maintain positive working relationships and employ adequate coping strategies in all areas of life. Leaders, ideally, should possess emotional intelligence to encourage the best of their team.
Emotional intelligence, however, has its limitations. Cherniss (2010) even suggests that EI has produced the highest level of controversy in the social sciences of recent years. More clarity in regard to theory is required. Roberts, Matthews and Zeinder (2010) propose that EI models do not adequately address theory. Furthermore, Roberts suggests that emotional intelligence definitions lack clarity and questions the criterion of which qualities should belong under the banner of emotional intelligence. It seems necessary to adopt one clear common definition. Measures of EI are currently underdeveloped in this relatively new field, more research and the creation of better measures may improve construct validity (Cherniss, 2010). This may result in the development of greater understanding and respect for the field. There is no guarantee that a person high in EI, will use this asset in a positive manner. Individuals with high emotional intelligence may manipulate people or situations for personal gain. Saaty (2001) suggests that decisions are not always based on the greatest idea but on a person’s ability to persuade others to accept the idea. More exploration and clarification is required to address some of the limitations of emotional intelligence.
Modern organisations face fundamentally different problems from those of the in the past, globalization, increases in technology and staff turnover are just some of the issues being confronted. The belief has been held for around a century that higher intelligence in individuals is more valued due to their higher task performance (Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002). Modern organisations provide services, and are organised according to a blend of individual’s, information and communication technology, social capital and recognized talents (Schoemaker & Jonkers, 2005). The measuring of CI enables modern organisations an affordable and speedy way of evaluating an employee’s general mental ability. General mental ability has been related to occupational level on both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies (Schmidt & Hunter, 2004). CI measures allow employers to apply specific cognitive abilities to valid and appropriate positions within the business with a view to discovering the best person for the job. According to Holloway (2003) employing the “right person for the job” or job fit is more essential now than ever.
Job fit can be described as “the degree to which a person’s cognitive abilities, interests and personality dynamics fit those required for the job” (Russell, 2003, p.27). This is where the importance of emotional intelligences comes into play. A constant balance between understanding the individual drives and motivations of workers and ensuring staff remain engaged, enthusiastic and valued has many rewards for modern organisations. Incorporating a balance between both intelligences gives employees the greatest chance of achieving appropriate job fit. Holloway (2003) states that positive job fit, results in increased job satisfaction, increased productivity and reduced staff turnover. Furthermore, research by O’Reilly, Chatman and Caldwell (1991) suggests newly hired staff whose with values that fit in with the culture of the organisation tend to adjust quicker, remain longer with the company and are overall more satisfied. While Hollaway, (2003) states that understanding of workers in regards to work/life balance, personal goals and drives may encourage loyalty reducing turnover, saving on retraining and downtime. Furthermore, EI combined with CI addresses the gaps between management and workers through understanding of positive leading by example management that can result in emulation by employees resulting in a ripple effect throughout the organisation. There is a strong link between emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence and the combination of both intelligences has become necessary for successful business relations in modern organisations.
Cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence are each important factors in regard to individual differences in the field of organisational behaviour in modern organisations. While general mental ability accounts for many valuable employee assets such as efficiencies in regard to knowledge acquisition and technological aptitude, limitations to validity and measurement of testing and relevance mean that cognitive intelligence is not the only measure of a successful employee. Emotional intelligence also plays a key role in individual success in modern organisations. Effective leadership, self- awareness, social networking, empathy, self-management are all are assets of the emotionally intelligent. Modern organisations benefit from the combination of both intelligences by finding the best fit for the position resulting in higher job satisfaction, higher retention of staff and greater profits.
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