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What’s driving your bike: how to harness the IQ and EQ

What’s driving your bike: how to harness the IQ and EQ

Nicola Hopes

14 February 2022

Imagine the scene, it’s a cold February afternoon. I’m at a conference. I’ve heard several speakers already and my brain is whirling with the ideas I’ve heard and dissolving under the weight of them. My energy levels are dropping and I’m wondering when the next coffee break is… 

Then in comes in the loud, confident and highly engaging voice of Mel Parker, president and CEO of Take the Limits Off. And he explains why emotional intelligence is so key to our success in a language I’ve never heard before. 

He describes the relationship between intelligence and emotional intelligence akin to riding a bike.  

When riding a bike, the power comes from the back wheel and you steer from the front.  

 emotional intelligence
  • Your intelligence (your IQ) is the back wheel of your bike, your engine room. 
  • That powers your ability, your cognition, your technical competence.  


  • The front wheel is your emotional intelligence (your EQ), the thing that helps you find the right direction.  
  • The instinct that helps you navigate those ‘no right, no wrong answer’ situations.  
  • The thing that helps you decide what to do next. 


He goes on to say: 

“So, it doesn’t matter how powerful your back wheel is  

if you can’t steer in the right direction.  

Nobody ever crashed because of a mistake with the back wheel!” 


I loved it because the analogy moved beyond the idea of emotional intelligence being relational. Beyond emotional intelligence being the thing that helps your team thrive and enjoy working for you. 

It’s the way you stay on track. 

We can’t be engaged or engaging leaders if we don’t harness both wheels. EQ isn’t a nice to have. It’s a necessity – if we don’t want to crash. 

In my coaching experience, I’ve worked with a few clients on that wheel:

  • One client with a very well-developed IQ who just wanted to focus more on their EQ. I used a tool to help him diagnose his specific EQ challenge and to understand that EQ is more sophisticated than ‘being nice’. His feedback went from ‘you have great ideas, but you aren’t taking folk with you’ to ‘here, have more responsibility’ in months. 
  • Another client with the opposite challenge – an overdeveloped EQ that kept steering her in directions she didn’t know enough about. We worked on her impulsiveness, and she no longer finds herself peddling down avenues without knowing where she’s going.  

And if you want to steer your bike more proficiently, let me know if I can help. In addition to one-to-one coaching. I also run an Emotional Intelligence masterclass for teams that can be delivered via webinar. 

Here’s to more exciting bike rides into some unchartered territory. And to fewer crashes of course. 

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