Place Your Bet: The Candidate with the Highest EQ Will Be the Next President

By Patti Baron Schreiber
10.04.2012

This past Sunday in the Chicago Tribune, columnist John Kass offered his perspective on the presidential candidates. He commented how President Barack Obama is not being held accountable for the soaring debt (from $10 trillion to $16 trillion) since he took office while Mitt Romney is being held to the fire for a gaffe that, in his opinion pales in comparison. And, he is probably right.

Why is that? Why are we willing to overlook what should be one of the biggest issues in this race? Because Obama exudes EQ. And most of us want a leader we can connect with, who is engaging and demonstrates authenticity.

Because our political candidates are so polished, spun and prepared, it is oftentimes only through the mistakes they make that we get to see them in a moment of light or truth; when they are raw and taken off guard. And so the gaffes take on a magnified importance to the watching world.

EQ or Emotional Intelligence Quotient is the level of intelligence a person has on the emotional side of the house. It is separate from IQ. Much has been written about EQ being as important, if not more important, in achieving success at work and at home. It is the ability to be aware and manage our emotions and the emotions of others to achieve better relationships with ourselves and those around us.

When I mentioned the topic of my blog in the office, one of my colleagues likened this to the “beer poll.” It is the likability factor that a candidate has – with who would you rather sit down, have a beer and shoot the breeze?

Probably the candidate who is most genuine: who has the highest EQ.

EQ plays into every aspect of this race and in past races. Unfortunately, the Republican campaign has been littered with low EQ mistakes, including the incredibly insensitive remarks by Todd Akin, which reflected poorly on the entire party. Romney’s recent faux pas of being caught on tape saying 47 percent of voters will cast their ballot for Obama no matter what, because they feed on the government and expect the government to take care of them, has gone viral.

When we think about what we want in a leader, the 26 core competencies on the Emotional Intelligence Assessment developed by the Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence highlight the qualities that appeal to most of us. Look through this partial list and see how each candidate compares in your mind.

  • Personal Power
  • Emotional Self Awareness
  • Integrity
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Inspirational Leadership
  • Building Bonds
  • Building Trust

I think it’s safe to say that whether we are talking about a spouse, a work colleague, a boss or the President of the United States, we want someone who is a good communicator, empathetic, has integrity, is emotionally self- aware, can build bonds and trust and is authentic.

As consumers of the political game being played out, we are searching for the truth of who these candidates are. Of course the policies are important, but if the person championing them is incapable of communicating, standing in their power, or relating to the vast majority of people in this country, they don’t stand a chance of winning the election. So much of each candidate is polished and spun by the PR and marketing powerhouses behind them, that when they show a crack into who they really are, we jump at the chance to see a glimpse of the true person. And that is why the focus on the gaffes takes on magnified importance.

My bet is this: The candidate most able to identify with us, engage, be authentic, real and human is the candidate that will win this election. As voters, we are smart enough to see through the staged situations – it is the unstaged that draw us in and give us the added insight we seek to make a decision.

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