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5 Qualities That Are Just as Important to Success as IQ

In a controversial article for Forbes, Keld Jensen wrote, “Intelligence is overrated.” He got a lot of flak for that statement and later countered: “I never asserted that intelligence is not important, but rather that there are plenty of highly successful people who don’t stack up as significantly more intelligent than those at lower levels of the success hierarchy…”

Kendra Cherry, an educational psychologist, agrees: “We have a tendency to believe that having a high IQ is a sure-fire way to guarantee success in life. After all, some of the most successful people in different fields such as science, art, business, and entertainment are extremely bright. While today we often assume that those with extremely high IQs are naturally more successful, there also exists a competing stereotype that… these highly intelligent individuals have poor social skills…You probably know a few extremely smart people who are also very successful, but you can also likely think of several people who are equally smart yet not as prosperous.”

Intelligence can play a role in success, but certain personality traits are equally important factors. Here are six of the most significant ones.

  1. Emotional Intelligence:
    In doctor-speak, emotional intelligence is “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Many psychologists believe this ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions can be more important than IQ to success.
  2. Open-mindedness:
    Whether it’s a question of being open to new cultural experiences or being willing to embrace changes in daily routines, open-minded people possess the gift of curiosity. They’re eager to learn new skills and try new things. Open-minded people are far more likely to succeed than their close-minded colleagues!
  3. Passion:
    Nothing can drive a person to success like passion. It is one of the most powerful forces in human nature. No matter what the job, passion can transform it into art. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
  4. Conscientiousness:
    Conscientious people are disciplined. They’re great at organizing their time and at planning ahead. They leave nothing to chance and are unafraid to ask for help when they need it – or to offer help when they can. They believe in going the extra inch or yard or mile whenever possible because they know their efforts will be rewarded down the road (or up the ladder).
  5. Kindness:
    Showing gratitude. Being compassionate. Saying thank you. Offering a helping hand. Acknowledging others’ good work. Such acts of kindness are often perceived by certain types of people to be displays of weakness, of vulnerability. Yet according to Stefan Einhorn, author of The Art of Being Kind, “There is a widespread belief that ruthless and self-centered people are the most successful when it comes to their careers. But being prepared to do anything to get ahead does not mean you will succeed in your ambitions.” Instead, Einhorn believes “[…] being kind to our fellow human beings is a precondition to becoming truly successful. Goodness and kindness are the single most important factors when it comes to how successful we will be in our lives.” People are attracted to others who make them feel good about themselves. People are generous to those who have shown them generosity. People want to work and invest in those people they feel reflect their own morals and ideals.

While you may not be able to raise your IQ, with practice, dedication, and imagination, you can increase your “people skills” and transform yourself into a more capable, more desirable employee. An employee bound for undreamed-of success.

About the author

Sophie Huss is the Global Director of Talent Acquisition & Training at Arkadin HQ in Paris. She has many years of in-depth experience in strategic and operational Marketing & HR in international environments. Fond of new technologies and digital transformation, Sophie uses her strong competences in digital marketing and lead generation to drive Human Resources (HR) to the digital world. In Digital Recruitment, that means employer branding, lead generation techniques applied to talent acquisition, central in-house talent acquisition organization, hiring processes, and deploying new HR Internal Systems, such as an Applicant Tracking System. For Learning & Development, it means developing onboarding and learning paths by job families, and deploying a Learning Management System (LMS) and global training programs. Building the Digital Workplace around the three pillars of Lifestyle, Workspace, and Tech Services is central to her philosophy, in order to transform and streamline Arkadin’s candidate and employee experience and lifecycle.

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