EQ & Steve Jobs' successEmotional Intelligence (EQ) has been found to be a necessary component of anyone’s success. I have recently watched the movie “Jobs,” which depicts Steve Jobs’ success in building Apple.

I started thinking about Jobs’ EQ and how much it helped him become successful. First, the movie showed how he focused on what he wanted in a product without really worrying about how the features will be implemented. Second, most of his relationships with people depended on how they can help bring the product to life. He didn’t hesitate to fire people if he determined that they were not going to contribute to the progress of his product.

Considering the above factors, how emotionally intelligent was Steve Jobs? How can we explain his success in terms of his EQ?

If we consider a very narrow definition of EQ, we might say that Jobs’ EQ is on the low side. However, if we consider his case from the perspective of the eight competencies of emotional intelligence, which is based on the 6seconds model, an entirely different story emerges.


I obviously cannot request Jobs to take the SEI assessment now, but if I had to guess, I believe he would score as follows on a scale of low, medium, and high:

  1. Emotional literacy Low
  2. Recognizing reaction patterns Low
  3. Managing emotions Med
  4. Consequential thinking High
  5. Exercising optimism High
  6. Intrinsic motivation High
  7. Developing empathy Low
  8. Pursuing noble goal (PNG) High

Based on the granularity of these eight competencies, Job’s EQ seems to be significantly higher than what it initially appeared to be according to his treatment of the people around him.

He certainly defined his products on the basis of the unique experience they would provide to people (PNG) and how they could improve people’s lives. His definition of his products did not seem to depend on how much money he would make, although this did not stop him from maximizing the returns that he can get.

He certainly had a talent for intrinsically motivating himself and other people by getting them excited about the final purpose of these products, giving them the autonomy to create, and allowing them to grow in the process.

He definitely looked at success and failure from the perspective of an optimistic person.

He seemed to be empathetic, but his passion for his products overrode any empathetic action toward people whom he felt were “useless” to Apple’s future, even though they seemed to be good friends and contributed immensely to Apple’s success in the past.

On the basis of his reaction to Woz leaving Apple, him getting fired, and other emotionally intense experiences, I would guess that he had low emotional literacy, and he was probably unable to recognize his own reaction patterns.

I would have to read his biography and do a lot more research to gain accurate insights into his life, but at least four of his high competencies apparently place him in a high EQ category.

At the very least, I can say that Apple would not have been as successful if:

  1. Jobs designed products just for money or fame without real purpose;
  2. He explained his failures from the perspective of a “pessimist” rather than that of an “optimist”;
  3. He motivated himself and others by using a “carrots and sticks” approach; and
  4. He only looked at short-term consequences without considering his own values when creating products.

My reason for writing this is to point out that simply looking at EQ as a number is not enough explain a person’s EQ holistically. As a matter of fact, two people with the same EQ number may have different competencies and may approach life situations in different ways. A more effective approach is to come up with a plan to improve EQ by considering the strengths of the different competencies.

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments or views.

What are your EQ strengths and how does it reflect in your life? Contact me if you like to find out.

Please write me at: shabbir@shabbirlatif.com.