From IQ to EQ: Your Knowledge Is Ephemeral

We live in a time characterized by vast amounts of information and a high demand for knowledge. The concept of knowledge defines something intangible, and it is difficult for you and other people to determine whether you are the most competent in your field. Knowledge is too complex.

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Generally, the key to becoming part the knowledge society is understanding that knowledge has become much more important than ever before to an individual’s success, a company’s competitiveness, and the nation’s welfare. Knowledge is the most important means of handling the increasing complexity and the rapid change that characterize our society.

Your professional competences and current knowledge are no longer decisive factors. How and through whom you or your employees upgrade their knowledge is interesting for your manager and your company to know. This is new fact in our networked knowledge society. We are dependent on relationships in getting the results we aspire to as individuals and organizations.

As a knowledge worker, it is a prerequisite that you know what you know and what you do not.

After reading Soeren Harnov’s report on our networked knowledge society, I got inspired that I decided to present some of his points together with my thoughts. Since the 1990s, many scientists and thinkers have tried to explain what it means to be part of a knowledge society. In a nutshell, the hallmark of the time we live in today is that, unlike in other times, you cannot master all the aspects of your job because the world is complex and the contexts that you operate in are becoming more and more diffuse. According to Harnov, we are in the middle of a phase where the focus is on a “new” kind of capitalism referred to as knowledge capitalism. The challenge is to understand it and live in it.

What good does your high IQ do if nobody knows what it is that you know? The trend is to share your knowledge through articles, blogs, lectures, social media, etc., so that people will find out what you know and what skills you have. He who lives in quiet does not live well! These days, you have to think long and hard about how you can communicate to the world about your skills. Knowledge has always been and will remain in great demand. Before, you could hold on to your knowledge and be rewarded as a specialist. Nowadays, we avoid working with people who keep their knowledge to themselves.

Employing people who do not generously share their knowledge is too expensive and risky. The reality is, knowledge is only valuable when shared. Also, certain types of knowledge are characterized by an uncertain shelf life. It is virtually impossible to predict exactly when specific types of knowledge will become worthless, but they are bound to become worthless!

We know from experience that current computer technologies will become irrelevant, that a particular vacuum cleaner will no longer be the best in cleaning floors, and that early manufacturing processes will become outdated. The same thing is true of knowledge. Therefore, you should think critically about how often you expand your knowledge as well as where you get your new knowledge and inspiration. Useful and respectable sources are available to those who are looking long and hard enough.

Access to knowledge will contribute to sustaining the growth of your career. More importantly, how you apply your knowledge will determine the extent of your success. You should ask yourself whether you are doing enough to share your knowledge. Knowledge is easier to share than goods, especially these days, where people are active on social media. If you are the type of person who keeps his knowledge to himself or herself, you will face a serious challenge because it is difficult to prevent people other than your client, manager, or colleague from accessing that knowledge.

Do not be afraid to share your knowledge; doing so helps increase your market value. What good does it do if, for example, you are the best programmer in the world but nobody knows it?

The downside of keeping your knowledge “close to your chest” is that people tend not to share their knowledge with you as well and you will become less and less knowledgeable than someone who shares their valuable knowledge generously. If you find it difficult to share your knowledge, you will also find it difficult to sell it—your knowledge will be useless.

After 10 years of research and practical work with professional networking, I have made a clear conclusion: “Most of us do not know the skills of the people we know, and we do not know how strong and loyal our relationships are.” Do you know?

Your newly acquired knowledge is only relevant for a very short time. Eventually, it will be outcompeted by some other knowledge. Your market value will be difficult to maintain if it is based only on a piece of paper from an educational institution or from a workplace.

Good managers are scarce

The sought-after manager of today, and up until 2020, knows that the art of being emotionally smarter is one of the three strongest and most in-demand competences. The other two are integrity and creativity. A good manager must have a deep self-knowledge to really understand people.

In 2015, we will face the challenge of having three to four generations in the workplace. In 2020, the figure is estimated to reach five generations. Never before have we experienced these many generations living and working side by side. Understanding one another and getting the best out of these generations’ differences, strengths, and challenges will be a challenging task.

Imagine this scenario: You work as the team leader of a team consisting of Annie, who wrote her dissertation on a typewriter; Henrik, who prefers to work from eight to four and hangs his personality in the cloakroom; Ditte, who tries to strike a balance between her role as a homemaker and mother and her role as a tough businesswoman; and Christopher, who identifies himself with his work and firmly believes that e-mails are outdated. As a manager, how do you create a positive work environment in a team influenced by individuals with different views on the concept of work? This example might be extreme, but it is not impossible.

Many organizations lack knowledge on how to attract, retain, and develop these very different generations simultaneously—and that is with good reason because there is no recipe for it. Age diversity and understanding different generations will be the next big challenge for you, your manager, and your company. They will make big demands on your combined EQ.

Knowledge and management are the product

In the next five years, we will increasingly look at knowledge as a product. More and more companies will produce and trade knowledge rather than material objects, especially in Denmark, where we are unable to compete in the market for traditional commodities.

In management, the keyword will be trust. People from the organization named Great Place to Work support this idea. When they started conducting their surveys on the best places to work, they did not know that trust is so important. They thought that employees are concerned mainly about salary and benefits. They were in for a surprise.

Trust in the organization, in the manager, and in the products is of much higher importance. Other studies show that trust is also the most important factor in management. Quite simply, trust is the key factor in motivating people. You may liken trust to a glue that binds people together, and you could say that trust is a result of a series of actions and a behavior practiced by the manager.

It becomes even more complex when we look at distance management (which we should increasingly relate to because of the global labor market). Further, a colleague told me about a quite interesting dilemma. He described it like this: “In my company, we are in the process of recruiting a highly specialized programmer on behalf of a client. Since the programmers are based offshore, the client finds it important that they can work independently and have excellent communication skills, which makes good sense when you as a manager are not able to be in the same room with your employees on a daily basis. Therefore the programmers’ EQ becomes important. However, the ‘funny’ thing is that our tests show—without exception—that every time we interview a technically skilled software developer, we can see that the social/communicative competences are weak, and whenever we interview a programmer with good ‘soft’ skills, we find out that the technical competences are weak.”

Quite a dilemma. Interesting, right?


“From IQ to EQ” is an article series edited from Soulaima Gourani’s article New Trends in Human Resources – From IQ to EQ. The original copy of the article can be found here.

Soulaima Gourani is a Danish speaker, author, board member and special adviser to ministers, task forces, goverment think tanks and demanding private companies. She was also one of the speakers of Nordic Business Forum 2014. More about Soulaima at www.soulaima.com.

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