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Political Intelligence – The Third Intelligence In Business

The 3 “Intelligence” States Within Businesses – Introducing Political Intelligence

There are two intelligence states we openly discuss across the business world currently, IQ (Intelligence quotient) and EQ (Emotional intelligence). 

The Simple Difference Between IQ And EQ? 

IQ is how smart you are, how you can learn from situations and develop yourself. IQ is typically about you rather than those around you. 

EQ is how good you are with people, in people first situations and how you enable and develop the people around you, professionally and how empathic you are towards their development. EQ is as much about you as much about others. 

These intelligence states are explained at great lengths, the issue with this is although both help you within the business world, the third state that goes unreferenced is political intelligence. 

Introducing PQ – Political Intelligence

Being political and playing the game can be dismissed by many people writing best practice guides, however: 

Political Intelligence is arguably the savviest intelligence to have and develop. 

PQ is about understanding which skills you have to use when you need large scale change, when you need to apply pressure, when to navigate difficult colleagues and combative behaviours of fellow managers and executives. 

Some of the best advice you will receive in your career and on your development track is to learn how to play the game and know how to influence those around you. 

An essential skill to master: 

When to use IQ, when to leverage EQ and when to apply PQ. 

PQ is an unfortunate byproduct of the business world, however, PQ is critical: 

  • If you are a high performer, 
  • If you are on the ‘fast track’
    or 
  • if you are an experienced senior manager and making progress within your business or looking to move onto your next challenge. 

Experienced executives are hardened to political intelligence, they have experienced first-hand or very often learn from being on the receiving end of PQ. 

When PQ is used, it is critical to understand the difference between personal PQ and professional PQ, this comes from experience and applying EQ blended with IQ. 

Hybrid PQ

In the near future, when asked what makes a great hybrid leader, we will have to be frank as a leadership team, being politically intelligent is going to be a core skills pillar to have and then develop their team around them to become politically smarter. 

Many execs do not (necessarily) love the political games and being victims of their colleagues’ political intelligence but the more experienced you become the more you have to develop your PQ.  

Play The Game

As answered in our anonymous career advice column, is playing the game necessary? playing the ‘game’ and being politically savvy are important skills you have to understand and develop. 

When applying PQ into your workflow and developing in your team, something that is essential to keep in mind is how to understand when this creates a negative subculture within your business. For all those who apply a negative PQ (this is common), you will need to know how to address and fix a toxic work culture.  


In the coming weeks an activity to undertake is to score yourself in a professional SWOT, apply the three intelligence states IQ, EQ and PQ and rate yourself out of ten and then develop the three intelligence pillars.