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Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence in the Field of Organisation Behaviour.
Within human societies, there are elements of social interaction and logical problem solving. Some individuals are known to their friends as very smart people who can fix problems. If these smart people are not know to their friends or their community, does their talent reach its full potential? Cognitive intelligence refers to the skills that people have to logically comprehend their world and problems. It covers not only academic skills such as reading and writing, but also just generally making sense of what is happening at any given time.
Cognitive Intelligence can be an indicator of performance success, people who are quite smart are likely to have good ideas and perform tasks well. Emotional Intelligence, is a second facet of individual difference that will be identified and compared to Cognitive Intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is the native ability one has to sense one’s own affect and the affect of the other and to know when and how to act” (O’leary, Van Slyke, Kim 2010). Cognitive Intelligence is the facet of reason, comprehension and logic, Emotional Intelligence deals with interpersonal relationships. A deeper understanding of their interdependence and strengths comes from looking at these theories within an organisation.
In investigating the theories of Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence within organisations, we must explore what an organisation is traditionally, in regards to the flow of knowledge and the individuals involved. Easterby-Smith and Lyles (2011) believe organisations cognitively, are lead by a “managerial team that biases knowledge, know-how, and skill accumulation into path dependent pathways ‘preferred’ by the dominant logic.” This dominant logic is reached as a logical consensus of the managerial team’s respective Cognitive Intelligences. Importantly, Easterby-Smith and Lyles go on to state that this managerial dominance suppresses variation and exploration of alternatives.
In a modern changing and competitive world, filled with organisations it is no longer enough to merely exist as an organisation to succeed, the dominance of a manager may hold an organisation back if an individual has the right idea for organisational success but is suppressed by the rigid Cognitive Intelligence of his managers plans. “Figuring out new and better ways to do things in an organisation, or even finding ways to improve current processes, is more often accomplished by working in flexible, team based arrangements than by individuals working alone” (Edmonson 2012).To encourage the communication of ideas an organisational understanding of interrelationships and ease of communication between the individuals of the organisation is needed.
Within an organisation no matter how useful an individual’s Cognitive Intelligence may be, a single person is like a single neuron in the large brain of the organisation.
An organisation’s capacity to compete, solve problems, innovate, meet challenges, and achieve goals— its intelligence, if you will— varies to the degree that information flow remains healthy. That is particularly true when the information in question consists of crucial but hard-to-take facts, the information that leaders may bristle at hearing— and that subordinates too often, and understandably, play down, disguise, or ignore. (Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole, 2008). With subordinates playing down information, the organisation suffers from not harnessing the complete potential of it’s individual’s Cognitive Intelligence.
Bennis, Goleman and O’Tooles views on organisational intelligence as an aggregate of many individual’s combined Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence is no doubt the same reason modern organisations have been quick to pick up on the importance of Emotional Intelligence within organisations. When people combine together, if there are interpersonal conflicts or disagreements that prevent good ideas from being shared then the organisation may as well consist solely of the individuals who are being heard. It is only benefiting from a small pool of ideas.
It is fascinating how the organisational level, reflects many of the individual concerns involving Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence, “new thinking about intelligence breaks down the separation between mind, body, and emotions, recognising that cognition involves all of these” (Pearson 2012). Pearson supports the idea that Emotional Intelligence is yet another part of the integrative ways of knowing. As Cognitive intelligence was earlier defined as the ability to comprehend, Pearson makes the case that Emotional Intelligence informs cognitive comprehension. In bringing it back to organisations a manager who is to be effective in a modern organisation must harness Emotional Intelligence as another cognitive facet to cognitive concerns when completing projects for the organisation. “Emotions are precious assets for a leader when wisely used, and become a source of disruption if ignored” (Henry 2011). By incorporating interpersonal rapport they are likely to achieve better results with their teams. This approach has become an accepted new awareness in modern organisations.
Emotional Intelligence is also improved quite easily when compared to Cognitive Intelligence. An organisation that is crippled by a block in the flow of it’s ideas can use the theories of Emotional Intelligence. It would acquire means to identify and fix information flow problems. In using Emotional Intelligence surveys, organisations have now been able to identify individuals who may have been inadvertently discouraging others to share ideas. Although there is no fixed recipe, four essential steps can be identified: “Assessing your present Emotional Intelligence level. Selecting one or two behaviours to work on. Practising these behaviours while putting elements of accountability in place. Assessing achievements.” (Henry 2011) Significant improvements can be made if an organisation implements Emotional Intelligence surveys. They can get a better understanding of Emotional Intelligence levels and the behaviours to work on. Individuals seeing an improvement in their personal growth and achievement would even gain some personal satisfaction. Brackett, Mayer and Warner (2003) observe that emotionally intelligent people are better at perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions, generally more agreeable and open, less likely to engage in risky behaviours and have more positive social experiences.
So far, we have discussed the notion of Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence being complimentary facets of cognition. We have examined these concepts within an organisation and identified that the flow of ideas in a community requires not only for the capacity to make these ideas, (Cognitive Intelligence) but also the capacity to move this idea forward where other people are involved who could be clients or co-workers (Emotional Intelligence). The case has been made, that separately, these two facets work inefficiently. What of their respective theoretical strengths? The theory of humankind having a mental capacity to cognise social and logical problems is as old as cognition itself. And yet, even among those who study our evolutionary ancestors, debate can be found. It was once accepted that human brains evolved to deal solely with ecological environmental problem solving such as gathering termites from a nest with a stick.
Dunbar (1998) suggests that the human brain is too large and energy hungry for only ecological tasks. The primate brains reflect the computational demands of the complex social systems that characterise them. He supports this idea with the biomechanical fact that neocortex size continues to increase in great apes and humans yet the complexity of our visual systems does not continue to proportionately increase as it has during our evolutionary history and that apes with larger neocortex’s than chimpanzee’s seem to have a grasp on a “Theory of mind” which enables them to accept false beliefs construed from their understanding (Emotional Intelligence) of another’s behaviour. In not interpreting the deeper metaphors of human conversation Dunbar goes on to suggest that our conversations would be confined to the banally factual; those fine nuances of meaning that create both the ambiguities of politeness and the subtleties of public relations would not be possible. The case exists to be made, that the very development of our brains neocortex and what we are as human beings has shaped our close need for social group cohesion.
Compelling as these ideas may be, that Emotional Intelligence is a fundamental part of being human and that it is equal to Cognitive intelligence, many intelligence theorists continue to disagree. While we are social beings, Emotional Intelligence has proven difficult to quantitatively and qualitatively grade to a score or level that the scientific method can grade Cognitive Intelligence. To draw an analogy consider exact grammatical tests of a persons vocabulary. Brody (2004) states that:
“No one would doubt that a person who has a high score on a test of vocabulary would have a large vocabulary and excels in the ability to define and understand the meanings of the words. Consider, by contrast, scores on a test of ability to manage emotions. A person who has expert knowledge of emotions may or may not be expert in the actual ability that is allegedly assessed by the test. A person may know the correct answer about the appropriate way of responding to the grief of a bereaved person. Such a person may or may not be skilled in the actual performance of the task of comforting a bereaved person.”
The fact seems suddenly apparent that within organisations after completing surveys and identifying Emotional Intelligence strengths, we are left with data that may or may not be able to inform us of a person’s capabilities. If someone has answered that they are independent, self efficacious and motivated then they may not necessarily be suitable for a trip to a south pole research station or a one way trip to Mars as a colonist. Emotional Intelligence within organisations has sought to improve the relationships of individuals within organisations and to identify areas for improvement to increase efficiency and the sharing of ideas. Having an idea of a person’s emotional strengths and understanding does not translate directly to their abilities to handle specific tasks.
The realm of the specific and the quantifiable, remains elusive to Emotional Intelligence. This is one of the defining strengths of Cognitive Intelligence. And the Cognitive Intelligence data seemingly suggests that over time people have been getting smarter. While Cognitive Intelligence is not synonymous with an IQ score, IQ testing does provide a quantifiable measure of general mental ability trends in small sample groups. An analysis of this increase in IQ points is provided in the work of Flynn, J.R. Who among other studies from over 13 other countries analysed the results of two Dutch verbal IQ tests dated to the years 1952 and1982. According to Flynn, people were not necessarily less intelligent in those days, but they were just “not used to viewing the world through scientific spectacles” (Wicherts 2008) . This provides an interesting view on the relationship that Cognitive
Intelligence has with it’s forms of measurement such as IQ tests. It shows that a person’s Cognitive Ability may not be properly measured if a person’s interface with the IQ test is not in tune with the framing of the test. This could be something along the lines of the test language not being the candidates primary language. “Linguists know that language represents a fundamental tool in acquiring and understanding information” (Salvi, Tanaka 2011). It brings about questions on the accuracy of Cognitive Intelligence assessment and even if these tests are versatile enough to recognise an individuals talents and intelligence given the tests biases. Despite this shortcoming, organisations can still positively use intelligence testing and other methods of determining Cognitive Intelligence to identify individuals who may need extra support and mentoring from the organisation.
The concepts of Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence have been identified as theories of logical comprehension and social cohesion respectively. The strengths of Cognitive Intelligence theories are that they can be a good indicator of performance outcomes and gives an indicator of a person’s capabilities to succeed. Emotional Intelligence’s theoretical strength is that it can identify area’s to be focused and then worked on so that people can improve their communication. The identified weakness of Cognitive Intelligence has been in determining it’s true values with contemporary measurement methods. Cultural bias and inability to truly determine general mental abilities with IQ tests as demonstrated by the Flynn effect and the undeniable truth that people were not getting inherently smarter over a 30 year period. Emotional Intelligence can give as assessment of a candidates knowledge of emotions but it cannot give you emotional performance indicators to predict how these people who are tested would react in various emotional situations. Given the evolutionary debate on the role of the neocortex in primates and the examinations of Bennis, Goleman and O’Toole’s organisational intelligence as aggregate of it’s individual members this paper concludes that Cognitive Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence as facets of the individual have relevant and equal applications in modern organisations. Together these theories improve organisational capacity to efficiently achieve goals.
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