| ACCOUNTING LITERATURE HISTORICALLY
placed little emphasis on behavioral issues.
However, recently, many organizations and researchers
have recognized that emotional intelligence skills are
critical to success. |
IN THE TUG-OF-WAR BETWEEN IQ AND
EQ, the readily recognizable IQ
(intelligent quotient) is being challenged by the
lesser known EQ (emotional quotient) as the better
basis for success. What do you think is more important
to success: (a) brain power or (b) intuition? Which
does a successful person need more of: (a) book
learning or (b) people skills? Studies have shown the
b’s have it.
WHAT’S YOUR EQ?
Basically, it is the level of your ability to
understand other people, what motivates them and how
to work cooperatively with them. The five major
categories of EQ are self-awareness, self-regulation,
motivation, empathy and social skills.
PSYCHOLOGISTS GENERALLY AGREE
that, among the ingredients for success, IQ
counts for only about 10% and the rest depends on
everything else—including EQ.
A HARVARD STUDY OF ITS GRADUATES
REVEALED there is little or no correlation
between IQ indicators (such as entrance exam scores)
and subsequent career success.
AS THE GLOBAL ECONOMY EXPANDS
and the world shrinks, people with the
ability to understand other people, and then interact
with them so that each is able to achieve their goals,
will be the success stories of the future. People will
realize that a high EQ is the key to a thriving
AKERS, CPA, PhD, is Charles T. Horngren professor of
accounting at the College of Business Administration,
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His e-mail
Michael.Akers@marquette.edu . GROVER L. PORTER,
CPA, PhD, is professor of accounting at Tennessee State
University. After a successful career at leading
universities, he received the Tennessee Society of
Certified Public Accountants’ Lifetime Achievement in
Accounting Education Award in 2001. His e-mail address
uestion: Is success in life and career
determined primarily by rational intelligence (the IQ or
intelligence quotient) or emotional intelligence (the EQ or
emotional quotient)? In other words, what’s more important:
intelligence or intuition? Historically the professional
accounting literature has placed little emphasis on behavioral
issues such as EQ, although human behavior underlies most of
what is written and taught about professional accounting. Now
managers place increased value on behavioral skills that help
people in the workplace. Look at this statistic: The
productivity of one-third of American workers is measured by
how they add value to information. Doesn’t that describe CPAs
exactly? This article will examine the ways in which EQ is
crucial to CPAs’ success and how they can cultivate EQ if they
haven’t got a lot of it.
|The AICPA and the
Institute of Management Accountants recognize that
emotional intelligence skills are critical for the
success of the accounting profession. In CPA
Vision 2011 and Beyond: Focus on the Horizon (
www.cpavision.org ), the AICPA identifies
emotional skills as extremely important, and an IMA
research study says “interpersonal skills” are most
important for success as professional accountants. In
another study researchers examined the knowledge and
abilities that students need to succeed in different
professions and concluded they require a portfolio of
skills that includes EQ. Is there a CPA or accounting
student who can afford to ignore his or her EQ? |
WHAT IS EQ?
“Basically, your EQ is the level of your
ability to understand other people, what motivates
them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says
Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist.
Five major categories of emotional intelligence
skills are of value to professional accountants.
Self-awareness. The ability to
recognize an emotion as it “happens” is the key to
your EQ. Developing self-awareness requires tuning
in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your
emotions, you can manage them. The major elements of
Emotional awareness. Your ability to
recognize your own emotions and their effects.
Self-confidence. Sureness about your
self-worth and capabilities.
Self-regulation. You often have
little control over when you experience emotions.
You can, however, have some say in how long an
emotion will last by using a number of techniques to
alleviate negative emotions such as anger, anxiety
or depression. A few of these techniques include
recasting a situation in a more positive light,
taking a long walk and meditation or prayer.
Self-control. Managing disruptive impulses.
Trustworthiness. Maintaining standards of
honesty and integrity.
Intelligence Test |
_____1. Do you
understand both your strengths and your
_____2. Can you be
depended on to take care of every detail?
_____3. Are you comfortable with
change and open to novel ideas?
_____4. Are you motivated by the
satisfaction of meeting your own standards
_____5. Do you stay
optimistic when things go wrong?
_____6. Can you see things from another
person’s point of view and sense what
matters most to him or her?
Do you let clients’ needs determine how you
_____8. Do you enjoy
helping colleagues develop their skills?
_____9. Can you read office politics
_____10. Are you able to
find “win-win” solutions in negotiations and
_____11. Are you the kind
of person other people want on a team?
_____12. Are you usually persuasive?
If you answered “yes” to six or more of
these questions and if people who know you
well would agree with you, then you have a
high degree of emotional intelligence.
Source. Working With Emotional
Intelligence, Bantam Books, New York,
Conscientiousness. Taking responsibility for your own
Adaptability. Handling change with flexibility.
Innovation. Being open to new ideas.
Motivation. To motivate yourself
for any achievement requires clear goals and a
positive attitude. Although you may have a
predisposition to either a positive or a negative
attitude, you can with effort and practice learn to
think more positively. If you catch negative thoughts
as they occur, you can reframe them in more positive
terms—which will help you achieve your goals.
Motivation is made up of |
Achievement drive. Your constant striving
to improve or to meet a standard of excellence.
Commitment. Aligning with the goals of the
group or organization.
Initiative. Readying yourself to act on
Optimism. Pursuing goals persistently
despite obstacles and setbacks.
Empathy. The ability to
recognize how people feel is important to success in
your life and career. The more skillful you are at
discerning the feelings behind others’ signals the
better you can control the signals you send them. An
empathetic person excels at
Service orientation. Anticipating,
recognizing and meeting clients’ needs.
Developing others. Sensing what others need
to progress and bolstering their abilities.
Leveraging diversity. Cultivating
opportunities through diverse people.
Political awareness. Reading a group’s
emotional currents and power relationships.
Understanding others. Discerning the
feelings behind the needs and wants of others.
Investor’s Business Daily spent
years analyzing leaders and successful
people to isolate these “10 secrets to
1. How you
think is everything: Always be positive.
Think success, not failure. Beware of a
2. Know your true dreams and goals:
Write down your specific goals and develop
a plan to reach them.
3. Act. Goals are nothing without
action. Don’t be afraid to get started
now. Just do it.
Never stop learning: Go back to school or
read books. Get training and acquire
persistent and work hard: Success is a
marathon not a sprint. Never give up.
6. Learn to analyze
details: Get all the facts, all the input.
Learn from your mistakes.
7. Focus your time and money: Don’t let
other people or things distract you.
8. Don’t be afraid to
innovate, be different: Following the herd
is a sure way to mediocrity.
9. Deal and communicate with people
effectively. No one is an island. Learn to
understand and motivate others.
10. Be honest and dependable—take
responsibility: Otherwise, knowing secrets
1 to 9 won’t matter.
Social skills. The development of good
interpersonal skills is tantamount to success in your life and
career. In today’s cyberculture all professional accountants
can have immediate access to technical knowledge via
computers. Thus, “people skills” are even more important now
because you must possess a high EQ to better understand,
empathize and negotiate with others in a global economy. Among
the most useful skills are
Influence. Wielding effective persuasion tactics.
Sending clear messages. |
Leadership. Inspiring and guiding groups
Change catalyst. Initiating or managing
Conflict management. Understanding,
negotiating and resolving disagreements.
Building bonds. Nurturing instrumental
Collaboration and cooperation. Working with
others toward shared goals.
Team capabilities. Creating group synergy
in pursuing collective goals.
THE EQ/IQ SKIRMISH
factors are at play when people of high IQ fail and
those of modest IQ succeed? How well you do in your
life and career is determined by both. IQ alone is
not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists
generally agree that among the ingredients for
success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%);
the rest depends on everything else—including EQ. A
study of Harvard graduates in business, law,
medicine and teaching showed a negative or zero
correlation between an IQ indicator (entrance exam
scores) and subsequent career success. Three
examples illustrate the importance of emotional
Meeting with potential clients.
At a planned three-hour meeting to
discuss an audit engagement, a senior partner
interrupted the prospective client after she had
spoken for only one hour. The CPA’s EQ told him
something was not right; he asked if her company had
a problem that it had not yet communicated, one that
his accounting firm could help the company solve.
These observations amazed the CEO because she had
just received news of two major financial hits the
company would take in the next year. Although the
audit had been the original purpose of the meeting,
it was no longer the most important issue. Because
of the partner’s intuition, listening skills and
ability to ask questions, his firm was selected to
perform the annual audit as well as several
consulting engagements. (From Executive EQ:
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and
Organizations by Cooper and Sawaf). Since the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act has placed limitations on the
types of consulting services CPAs can perform, the
importance of this example is not that both the
audit and consulting services were obtained but
rather that the partner identified the client’s
problems through effective EQ. The expectations
created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as well as recent
statements on auditing standards (for example, SAS
no. 99, Consideration of Fraud in a Financial
Statement Audit ) will necessitate that
auditors appropriately use EQ skills in their
relationships with publicly traded clients and in
the conduct of the audit.
Measuring Emotional Intelligence
The EQ questionnaire
at the beginning of this article will give
you a basic idea of your emotional
intelligence, but there are more extensive
tests available that you can use to assess
it. This list provides a description of
some of the assessment tools available and
motional Competence Inventory 360
(ECI 360). The ECI 360
provides a way to determine the strengths
and weaknesses of people so they can focus
on honing the competencies that will
enable them to meet career objectives.
This should be used as an assessment tool
only—not for hiring or compensation
decisions. Contact: Hay Group,
www.haygroup.com or 877-267-8375.
EQ Map Questionnaire: Mapping Your
The EQ map enables someone
to identify his or her individual and
interpersonal patterns for success by
plotting performance strengths and
vulnerabilities, using 21 scales. Contact:
www.qmetricseq.com or 415-252-7557.
BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory
(EQ-i). The evaluator is
a result of Dr. Reuven Bar-On’s testing of
more than 48,000 individuals during the
past 19 years. The BarOn EQ-i consists of
133 items and takes approximately 30
minutes to complete. It provides an
overall EQ score as well as scores based
on 5 scales (intrapersonal, interpersonal,
adaptability, stress and general mood) and
15 subscales. Contact: BarON Eq-i section
of the Multi-Health Systems site,
Multifactor Emotional Intelligence
Scale (MEIS). This tool
measures the four aspects (identifying
emotions, using emotions, understanding
emotions and managing emotions) of the
developed by Mayer and Salovey. Contact:
Charles J. Wolfe of Charles J. Wolfe
email@example.com or 860-658-2737.
Work Profile Questionnaire-EI
Version (WPQei). The
84-item WPQei measures the personal
qualities and competencies that employees
need to manage emotion in the workplace.
It focuses on the seven components
(innovation, self-awareness, intuition,
emotions, motivation, empathy and social
skills) of an emotional intelligence
model.Contact: CIM Publishers,
0-114-235-3448 (United Kingdom).
Partners’ contribution to profitability. A
study of partners at a large public accounting firm showed
that those with significant strengths in self-management
contributed 78% more incremental profit than partners who did
not have these skills. Additionally, partners with strong
social skills added 110% more profit than those with only
self-management competencies. This resulted in a 390%
incremental profit annually. Interestingly, those partners
with significant analytical reasoning skills contributed only
50% more incremental profit. (From Primal Leadership:
Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by
Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee.
Organizations can assist
employees in developing emotional competencies by providing
appropriate training. The Consortium for Research on Emotional
Intelligence in Organizations, which consists of researchers
and practitioners from business schools, the federal
government, consulting firms and corporations, has developed
guidelines for best practices in teaching emotional
intelligence competencies (see “Checklist for Emotional
Competencies Training”). For additional reading on emotional
intelligence, see the articles and books shown in the sidebar,
Bar-On, R. Emotional Quotient Inventory
(EQ-i): Technical Manual. Toronto, Canada:
Multi-Health Systems, 1997.
Bar-On, R., and
Parker, J.D.A. (eds). The Handbook of Emotional
Intelligence: Theory, Development, Assessment and
Application at Home, School and in the Workplace.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2000.
Cherniss, C., and Adler, M. Promoting Emotional
Intelligence in Organizations: Making Training in
Emotional Intelligence Effective. Alexandria,
Virginia: American Society for Training and
Cooper, R. K., and Sawaf,
A. Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in
Leadership and Organizations. New York:
Berkeley Publishing Group, 1997.
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More
Than IQ. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.
|———. Working With Emotional
Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1998.
———. “What Makes a Leader?” Harvard Business
Review. November–December 1998.
“Leadership That Gets Results.” Harvard Business
Review. March–April 2002.
Boyatzis, R., and McKee, A. Primal Leadership:
Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.
Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School
Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D., and
Salovey, P. “Emotional Intelligence Meets Traditional
Standards for an Intelligence.” Intelligence
, 27(4) (2000): 267-298.
Stein, S. J.,
and Book, H. E. The EQ Edge: Emotional
Intelligence and Your Success. Toronto, Canada:
Stoddard Publishing Co., Ltd., 2000.
Weisinger, H. Emotional Intelligence at Work.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.
www.eiconsortium.org , the Consortium for
Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.
For most people EQ—even if
they didn’t recognize it as such—has always been more
important than IQ in attaining success in their lives and
careers. As individuals our success and the success of the
profession today depend on our ability to read other people’s
signals and react appropriately to them. Therefore, each one
of us must develop the mature emotional intelligence skills
required to better understand, empathize and negotiate with
other people—particularly as the economy has become more
global. Otherwise, success will elude us in our lives and
Emotional Competencies Training |
guidance to plan EQ education for employees.
Assess the job. Focus your
company’s training on the competencies needed for
excellence in a given job or role.
Caveat. Training for irrelevant competencies
Best practice. Design training based on a
systematic needs assessment.
Assess the individual employee.
Evaluate his or her strengths and
limitations to identify what needs improving.
Caveat. There’s no point in training
employees in competencies they already have or do not
Best practice. Tailor training to the
Deliver assessments with care.
Feedback on a person’s strengths and
weaknesses carries an emotional charge.
Caveat. Inept feedback can be upsetting;
skillful feedback motivates.
Best practice. Use your EQ when delivering
evaluations of a person’s EQ.
Gauge readiness. Assess employee’s
ability to accept EQ training.
Caveat. When people lack readiness, training
is more likely to be wasted.
Best practice. Assess for readiness, and if
someone is not yet ready, make cultivating it an
Motivate. People learn to the
degree they are motivated—for example, by realizing
that acquiring a competency is important to doing
their job well and by making that acquisition a
personal goal for change.
Caveat. If people are unmotivated, training
Best practice. Make clear how training will
pay off on the job or for the individual’s career or
be otherwise rewarding.
Make change self-directed. When
employees have a say in directing their learning program
by tailoring it to their needs, circumstances and
motivations, their training is more effective. |
Caveat. One-size-fits-all training programs
fit no one specifically.
Best practice. Have people choose their own
goals for development and help them design their own
plan for pursuing them.
Focus on clear, manageable goals.
People need clarity on what the desired
competency is and the steps needed to get it.
Caveat. Poorly focused or unrealistic
programs for change lead to fuzzy results or failure.
Best practice. Spell out the specifics of the
competency, and offer a workable plan to obtain it.
Prevent relapse. Habits change
slowly, and relapses and slips need not signal defeat.
Caveat. People can become discouraged by the
slowness of change and the inertia of old habits.
Best practice. Help people use lapses and
slip-ups as lessons to prepare themselves better for
the next time.
Give performance feedback. Ongoing
feedback encourages and helps direct change.
Caveat. Fuzzy feedback can send the training
Best practice. Design into the change plan
mechanisms for feedback from supervisors, peers,
friends—anyone who can coach, mentor or give
appropriate progress reviews.
Encourage practice. Lasting change
requires sustained practice both on and off the job.
Caveat. A single seminar or workshop is a
beginning—but not sufficient in and of itself.
Best practice. Suggest that people use
naturally arising opportunities for practice at work
and at home and that they try the new behaviors
repeatedly and consistently over a period of months.
Arrange support. Like-minded people
who are trying to make similar changes can offer crucial
ongoing support. |
Caveat. Going it alone makes change tougher.
Best practice. Encourage people to build a
network of support and encouragement. Even a single
buddy or coach can help.
Provide models. High-status,
highly effective people who embody a competency can be
models who inspire change.
Caveat. A do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do
attitude in superiors undermines change.
Best practice. Encourage a supervisor to
value and exhibit the competency; make sure trainers
Encourage. Change will be greater
if the organization’s environment supports it, values
the competency and offers a safe atmosphere for
Caveat. When there is not real support,
particularly from bosses, the change effort will seem
hollow—or too risky.
Best practice. Encourage change that fits the
values of the organization. Show that the competency
matters for job placement, promotion or performance
Reinforce change. People need
recognition—to feel their change efforts matter.
Caveat. A lack of reinforcement is
Best practice. Be sure the organization shows
it values the change in a consequential way—praise, a
raise or expanded responsibility.
Evaluate. Establish ways to
measure development to see whether it has lasting
Caveat. If a development program goes
unevaluated, then mistakes or pointless programs go
Best practice. Establish measures of the
competency or skill as shown on the job, ideally
before and after training, and also several months
(and, if possible, a year or two) later.
|Source: Adapted from
Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam
Books, New York, 1998. |