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The 3 Q’s of Career Success

IQ, intelligence quotient, used to be considered as the standard of success – but that may no longer be enough in the modern workplace, where emotion, resilience and cultural sensitivities have become equally, if not more, important. So if you’re looking to jump to the front of your own career queue, it’s time to study up on the new Q’s of success.

AQ – Adversity Quotient

How do you tend to react when facing unpredictable challenges? People with a higher AQ are more adaptable to changes, as they’re able to identify which areas they can control, and which they can’t, but need to adapt to. They are then able to develop a plan of action rather than being overwhelmed by the situation.

In his classic book, Dr Paul Stoltz, who was voted by HR Magazine as one of the top 10 most influential global thinkers, introduced the “LEAD” tool to help us push through adversity. Here’s how it works:


L stands for “listen”, to yourself and how you’re responding;
E for “explore” in terms of what you are responsible for;
A is for “analyse” and work out how to adapt to the new scenario; and
D for “do” something, as in actions that bring back as much control as possible.  


The next time you’re feeling stressed from an unforeseen problem at work, stop for a moment to reflect on your feelings and thoughts toward the situation, before looking at the problem objectively: what could you have done better or influenced? What are the long-lasting impacts? What is the evidence? These questions help create a sense of control. Then, take action – perhaps it involves gathering information on your own or speaking to a colleague. The bottom line is, be specific with each step of your action plan so you can navigate through the changing circumstances with ease.

EQ – Emotional Quotient
The best teams are those that are harmonious and emotionally balanced – and whether you’re a leader or a team member, understanding how our own emotions affect our behaviour is vital. By nurturing self-awareness, we also develop a more functional empathy for others, which in turn helps us recognise, understand and influence the behaviour around us.

The good news? We can learn to get better at this. There are two immediate ways to nurture self-awareness and empathy: through introspection (by naming your emotions, which helps your conscious mind recognise what you’re feeling), and feedback from others (to audit your self-knowledge). But interestingly enough, literature also helps. Studies found that reading stories with complex characters (like those from Game of Thrones) can improve social awareness, as they help us understand others’ thoughts and emotions. So if you’re looking to boost your EQ, simply pick up a novel!
CQ – Cultural Quotient
Look upon CQ as the “new normal”. We’re all different in our own ways – and understanding this is incredibly important in today’s diverse and inclusive workplace, as it allows us to drop the stereotypes about national characteristics and encourages every member of the team to shine.

In many senses, CQ is a further refining of EQ. It recognises that everyone shares the same emotions, aspirations and personality traits – it’s just that our cultural backgrounds may cause us to express them differently through our behaviours. By now, we’re used to recognising such differences, but people with higher CQ are skilled in spotting the commonalities behind these differences.

To get ahead on CQ, we have to look again at our worldview, and break away from biases towards other cultures. Sometimes, simply changing the language of how we look at something can help us do so. For example, what we may define as a “normal working environment” may not translate to everyone, but that does not make their view “abnormal” – just “different”.

Improving our cultural intelligence also requires a cultural curiosity – the more familiar you are with other customs and traditions, the less likely you are to judge them based on your own beliefs. One of the most effective ways to learn about cultures is through real life interactions. So, make friends from different backgrounds, keep an open mind, and stay curious!

Learn how to navigate the modern workplace – add these books about business to your reading list!
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