Success at Work – Mind Your Q’s, Written by Frank Ferrante

What are the factors that increase the odds of becoming a successful businessperson?

Having observed scores of successful people over thirty years in business, my simple answer is this – these people are good at what they do and others enjoy working with them.

I have seen people who are good at what they do, but difficult to work with and conversely, those who are easy to work with but not very good at what they do.

Underlying this simple answer, and forming the factors that are the foundation of success, are the four Q’s; IQ, EQ, CQ and MQ.

IQ  It used to be that being intelligent was all you needed to get ahead. It is still true that you need to be smart but now that a lot of people are also smart, this really doesn’t distinguish you (unless you’re a genius, however most people I knew who thought they were geniuses were simply arrogant and narcissistic smart people who no one enjoyed working with).

How smart are you? Can you solve complex business problems, are you strategic, do you have broad industry knowledge, are you aware of (and apply) the latest developments in your profession, do you read books on topics including and beyond business and self-help, can you hold a conversation, do people seek your advice? All of these, and I’m sure there are many more, lead others to see you as a professional.

So, if being intelligent is important (you must be competent) but not enough, what else is required?

EQ Daniel Goleman has done significant work in the area of Emotional Intelligence. His HBR article, “Leadership That Gets Results” (and numerous books) provides empirical proof of the importance of this type of intelligence and I have clearly seen EQ in successful people at work.

Before the designation of EQ, this went by a variety of descriptors including “street smarts,” “savoir faire,” etc. Simply put, this is the ability to connect with yourself (self-aware) and others (empathy).

People with high EQ are good at relationship building – they know that before you can convince, you must connect, and you can’t connect with IQ alone (rational arguments and facts). They establish the relationship first realizing that there is a strong emotional component to relationship building, and they also know that the most important time to establish a relationship is not when you need it. They start by giving, and putting the other person first.

Not everyone has EQ so this is clearly a distinguishing factor, one that makes a significant difference in achieving business success.

How’s your EQ? Do you put yourself in the other person’s shoes when you have a disagreement, are you aware of the trigger points that unleash your temper, do you treat your conclusions as hypotheses (something to examine v. sell), can you read others’ needs and moods and respond accordingly? There are many more and there are also numerous EQ diagnostic tools that will help you further develop this important intelligence.

CQ I can remember when organizations had “International” divisions, the part of the company that focused exclusively on activities beyond their domestic headquarters. The prevailing idea at that time was the international folks were different and wouldn’t it be nice if they could become more like “us.”

Then, as organizations became increasingly global, a different mindset emerged. Replacing the “they are different” was the “we are all different” with no one having a monopoly of wisdom – this new global mindset welcomed and valued diversity, and learning became a two-way street with success placed on a global platform and a new type of intelligence required – Cultural Intelligence.

I knew many executives who were very successful in their domestic setting but once they went beyond that, problems emerged. Their ability to understand and adapt to different cultural norms was the issue and because of this a promising career was short-circuited.

How’s your CQ? Do you know about high and low context cultures, are you aware that what works in one culture (discussing business over a dinner meeting) will completely backfire in another culture (the business dinner is the time to get to know people and build a trusting relationship), do you understand how the decision-making and team building process varies from culture to culture, how do you handle your virtual global teams, how do you adapt your leadership style?  Again, there are many more, and there are numerous tools to help you up your CQ.

MQ This is the essential moral compass, the simple ability to know right from wrong and act accordingly. Yet, simple as this is, it is often ignored or rationalized, falling victim to hubris and conceit.

Really bad decisions are usually a departure from Moral Intelligence; these decisions are often a violation of trust, fairness and conscience. If there is a fatal flaw, this is it, and it is the main reason why most organizations have core value statements that include the key components of MQ; trust, integrity, respect, honesty, collaboration, all the essential indicators of how we behave at work, how we treat each other and how we conduct business.

This is clearly the essential “intelligence” without which the other intelligences are rendered useless.

All of these Q’s work together, organically, forming the character and posture of a successful businessperson.

When we think of people we admire and enjoy working with, these Q’s are often the reason – so don’t forget to mind your Q’s, paying attention to them every day, developing them all the time, to make you more successful in what you do and who you are.