Is ‘LQ’ the future of business?

This is the question posed by Joanna Swash in her January column for Elite Business

Is ‘LQ’ the future of business

In the boardroom, there’s been a lot of talk about IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient). But now there are serious conversations about the topic LQ (learning quotient).

Having a high LQ means having a strong desire and ability to learn and adapt. And this is an increasingly important attribute in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. 

Employees who are keen to learn new skills, technologies and strategies will help businesses thrive long term, and ultimately remain ahead of the competition. With this in mind, it is vital for companies to focus on developing a high LQ among its workforce.

What is LQ?

It has been an interesting couple of years for both businesses and leaders. There’s been many a bump in the road and I am sure that there will be many more. We have had to adapt to market changes, fulfil new and ever-changing customer needs, react to production chain fluctuations, and we’ve all had to achieve this with speed. 

This is how business has stayed relevant. To thrive, a business must remain agile by being adaptive, innovative and resilient: And not just in reaction to change but despite of it. We have learned that Learning Quotient (LQ) is the future of business.

However, in your ‘quotient pie chart’, how important is LQ? ‘Intelligence’ (IQ) is always important and perhaps outweighs ‘Emotional’ (EQ) – or does it? But we still need to make room for LQ. There is no point having great quantities of aptitude, if businesses do not have the ability to adapt and change. 

With EQ, there needs to be a strong focus on tuning-in, paying attention, observing, and connecting. Meanwhile, with LQ, there has to be a willingness, desire and capacity to learn.

Why is LQ so important?

To become an agile business, you must hire the right people – those with the right mind-set. You must nurture the correct culture and correct leadership.  Everything needs to be aligned with the correct fundamental principles. Agility needs to run through the very DNA of an organisation.

For example, consider the massive and exciting technological advancements we are reading about every day. They are altering how we work and how we learn. Think about how we have had to pivot during the pandemic.

Since Covid struck the Western World in early 2020, we have had to adapt to numerous changes. Most notably, was the need for many people to suddenly work from home, and the re-arranging of office space and team rotas. This meant developing new skills, while also embracing the need to learn new technologies simply to survive.

It is this capacity to learn which we need to nurture in all individuals within an organisation. This is something that employees must investigate, if they wish to boost their career progression and mobility. And companies need to encourage such a culture to help create a sustainable business model.

How can leaders harness LQ?

As with all things, it starts at the top. But I also believe that you can’t have leadership without learning. I am a student of the everyday. I am curious. I am always asking questions and listening to my people.

I want to know about markets, my fellow leaders, academics, friends and family. I am always learning from them, even if I don’t realise it at the time. Learning offers endless possibilities and opportunities. It can sometimes lead to mistakes. But this is an experience we all need from time to time.

Making mistakes is essential and natural in business, providing it is managed within boundaries. Never lose sight of this fact: If we don’t test out a theory or new solution, how could we possibly know if it works? How else do we learn?

When seeking to maximize LQ, it is all about embracing diversity of thought, or challenging your assumptions. It is also about starting from the beginning, and accepting that no single person knows everything. It is about opening your mind to the possibility that there is often – although not always – a better way of doing something.

Essentially, developing your LQ is about sharing your learning. This is where the true value lies. Not only is it about exchanging views with others, but also about being receptive to new processes, attitudes and cultures.

LQ and the future of business

As a leader, it’s important to focus on developing all of your quotients. These, as mentioned already, are IQ, EQ and LQ.  However, regardless of these labels, it is vital for all businesses to cultivate a learning culture. This is essential for the future success of an organisation. 

This means being committed to continuous learning and improvement. It also means investing in the development of your employees. It starts with you as a leader, and needs to filter throughout the entire organisation (from senior executives to the newest recruits).

By creating a culture of learning, you stand a better chance of keeping the company ahead of the competition. It makes it easier to adapt to changing market conditions and to attract top talent. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, and if you personally wish to remain a respected leader, then make sure to prioritise learning and development within your business.

Joanna Knight
Joanna Knight

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