Mind Those Q's

Balaji Krishnamurthy

A few months ago, Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist, wrote an article on how the hiring practices at Google have changed from focusing on GPAs and graduates from prestigious schools to a broader index of indicators. That motivated us to formalize a framework that we have informally used over the years.

Would you like to hire intelligent people?

For most professional jobs, the answer is likely to be yes. What is intelligence? There are hundreds of definitions, and ours, offered here, is probably consistent with most of them: Intelligence is the ability to observe, comprehend, abstract, reason and (from all of that) deduce conclusions. Intelligence, often measured by a series of tests resulting in an Intelligence Quotient or IQ (coined by psychologist William Stern), places undue emphasis on the manipulation of data and facts and little emphasis on the observation of one’s surroundings. Howard Gardner advanced the theory of multiple intelligences and Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of emotional intelligence. EQ became the informal moniker to capture one’s emotional intelligence, the individual’s capacity to “observe, comprehend, abstract, reason and deduce conclusions” from the emotions of people around oneself.

So, should we focus on both IQ and EQ? Hold your horses! We want to offer you many more Q’s!

In addition to IQ and EQ, we suggest that you consider eight other Q’s, an informal measure of eight attributes, in evaluating the suitability of an individual for a specific role – be it as an employee, a friend, a sports teammate, etc. In addition to the definition of each of these attributes, we offer a framework for thinking about them. Finally, we end with a provocative thought for the obvious omission of a potential attribute.

IQ and EQ measure intelligence, the ability to observe, comprehend, abstract, reason and deduce conclusions from structured information or human emotions. These attributes are inherent to the individual and the power of his or her mind. The individual is likely to exhibit these attributes in any situation in which the individual is placed.

KQ and SQ, standing for Knowledge Quotient and Skills Quotient, provide a measure of the individual’s knowledge and skill in a relevant discipline. Observe that knowledge is the amassing, retention and recollection of information and skill is the expertise in doing specific tasks, usually attained through years of practice. Both KQ and SQ are specific to the discipline of interest. They do not transfer from one discipline to another. They are subject matter specific.

DQ and MQ, standing for Diligence Quotient and Motivation Quotient, provide a measure of the individual’s diligence and motivation in a particular situation. Observe that diligence is the individual’s commitment to work hard, put the nose to the grindstone and get the job done. In contrast, motivation is the individual’s drive to succeed, to accomplish and reach goals. Both of these attributes are situation dependent, although one might argue that a diligent individual is likely to be diligent in any situation in which the individual is placed. Nevertheless, we believe that the situation has a significant bearing on the individual’s diligence and motivation.

CQ and NQ, standing for Character Quotient and kindness (Niceness) Quotient, provide a measure of the individual’s ethics and kindness. Good character is about doing what is right. In contrast, kindness is about doing something nice. Both character and kindness are attributes of the individual and captures the individual’s heart. The individual is likely to exhibit these attributes in any situation in which the individual is placed.

Finally, PQ and SQ, standing for Personality Quotient and Sociability Quotient, provide a measure of how the individual interacts with others and how the individual presents him or herself. Personality includes the individual’s appearance, behavior, mannerisms, charisma and the like. In contrast, sociability relates more to interactions with others, both one-on-one and in group settings, the individual’s ability to collaborate and be a team player and importantly, the individual’s leadership capabilities. Again, PQ and SQ are attributes of the individual and are likely to be exhibited in all situations.

An obvious omission in the above Q’s is a measure of one’s creativity.

Is creativity an intrinsic attribute of an individual, separate from intelligence? Or, does intelligence measure creativity? What is creativity, anyway? Is somebody who is creative in one discipline likely to be creative in another? Does the situation have a bearing? We claim that creativity is a combination of intelligence, the discipline (subject matter) and the situation. As such, we have chosen to omit it as an independent attribute. Nevertheless, it is inviting to discuss how creativity plays a role in leadership and management in a future article in this column.

All that said, are all the Q’s equal?

Are they all important? What we suggest is that you be intentional about the relative importance of each of those Q’s in evaluating an individual for a specific position. And then seek to understand how the individual stands up in each of those measures. Observe that when you seek others’ input on the individual, their comments on KQ, SQ, DQ and MQ may or may not transfer. What is likely to transfer are IQ, EQ, CQ, NQ, PQ and SQ. So, focus your own independent exploration on the former list and seek references to assess the latter list. Being intentional about the Q’s allows you to mind the Q’s efficiently.

Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They are intended to help our readers intentionally realize their potential, what we call Potentionality.