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The Many Different Types of Intelligence
by Jen Phillips, PharmD, BCPS, ICHP President
It was October 1st, and I sat staring at a piece of paper showing my first-grader’s MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores. He did not do as well as I had hoped he would do. I had been told by other mothers that this is the test that determines my child’s future. If he does well, then better classes and better teachers await. If he does not do well… “best of luck to him”. I turned from the paper and looked at my son and thought about how many talents he has, including many that I, myself, wish I had. He is sweet-natured, caring, funny, and very charismatic. But there are no standardized tests for those characteristics. Is it true what the other mothers were telling me? Does my child really need to get in the 90th percentile or above to be successful? I was starting to get worried about my son’s future.
A few days later, we were selling popcorn for our local Cub Scout pack, and I was able to watch my son “in action”. At six years old, many of the other boys hid behind the table and were afraid to approach the customers. But my son approached every customer with a big smile and a cheery hello. He was eager to point out the new packaging and flavors available. He was so earnest, sincere, and polite that people couldn’t help but stop and entertain his proposal. Everyone who met him loved his outgoing and cheerful personality. Many commented on how professional he sounded. It was a very successful and productive day for him, and I was very impressed at his approach and his ability to reach so many people. I realized then that he is going to do just fine in this world.
What this experience and many others has reminded me of is that there are many different types of intelligence that need to be considered and all play a unique role in helping an individual (and an organization) achieve success.
Intellect. This is what we typically think of when the word “intelligence” is mentioned. Intellect deals with an individual’s ability to comprehend and analyze abstract or academic issues. This type of intelligence is easy to measure using standardized evaluation measures like multiple-choice tests. Of course, this type of intelligence is important for ensuring that pharmacists have the knowledge and reasoning capacity to be able to practice safely. However, being an effective pharmacist requires much more than just intellect. Knowledge is useless unless it is shared – with physicians, colleagues, patients, family members, etc. And having the ability to effectively navigate the complexities of relationships in today’s interprofessional world and successfully execute a pharmacy intervention/recommendation requires integration of intellect with other types of intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence deals with an individual’s ability to accurately identify complex emotions in oneself and others and manage them effectively. There is a common misconception that emotional intelligence is related to personality and therefore, not changeable. However, many data suggest that emotional intelligence concepts are not only teachable, but necessary for success.1,2 I was privileged to be the keynote speaker at the student leadership retreat this past summer, where we discussed the concepts of emotional intelligence and worked through strategies to help mange emotions so that they work for us and not against us. The book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” served as the basis for the program.3 It is a great how-to text you may want to consider if you are interested in honing your own emotional intelligence skills.
Positive Intelligence. ICHP’s leadership retreat this November focused on the tenets of positive intelligence, as outlined in the book “Positive Intelligence”.4 This book takes the concepts of emotional intelligence one step further and offers guidance on how individuals can identify “threats” (known as saboteurs in the book) to effective emotional management (e.g., being a stickler, controller, worrier, pleaser) and minimize their impact. This book also provides guidance on how teams with diverse personalities can work together more harmoniously. This process, referred to in the book as the “sage process,” involves stressing the importance of empathy, exploration, innovation, and navigation in the decision making-process. We utilized the concepts of the sage process at our retreat by dividing participants into diverse personality groups and having them work through complex problems affecting the profession and ICHP. Many participants found this exercise valuable. I encourage you to try this strategy at your workplace as well!
Too often, we focus on how “smart” someone is by considering test scores or GPA or how quickly they can rattle off drug facts. However, what I have come to learn over time is that true intelligence embodies much more than that. I am pleased to see that recent ACPE standards place more emphasis on personal development of students.5 However, before we can begin to educate our students on these other types of intelligence, we must master them ourselves. Therefore, I am working with ICHP to try to have educational sessions at meetings that focus on these other necessary skills, like emotional intelligence and leadership. I look forward to seeing you there.
Have a wonderful holiday season!
- Romanelli F, Cain J, Smith KM. Emotional intelligence as a predictor of academic and/or professional success. Am J Pharm Educ. 2006;70(3):Article 69.
- Sy T, Tram S, O’Hara LA. Relation of employee and manager emotional intelligence to job satisfaction and performance. J Vocat Behav. 2006;68(3):461-73.
- Bradberry T, Greaves J. Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart; 2009.
- Chamine S. Positive Intelligence. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press; 2012.
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Accreditation Standards. https://www.acpe-accredit.org/pdf/Standards2016FINAL.pdf Accessed October 28, 2015.