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Organizations continue to struggle to determine who has “potential” or who is a “high potential.” As we saw in the last post, many organizations mistakenly use performance as a proxy for potential. As such, strong performers are seen as high potentials, something we know is not always the case. High potentials are definitely strong performers, but there is much more than just performance that makes someone a high potential. Building on the work of Bob Eichinger, one of Lominger’s founders, this blog post presents his 6Q model of leadership potential.
When we think of the word “quotient,” it is often associated with what has commonly been called IQ, which is the abbreviation for Intelligence Quotient. Using this same model, Bob laid out six important areas that lead to leadership success and, I would argue, are also key elements in defining potential. These six quotients, or 6Qs, are: IQ, MQ, LQ, XQ, PQ and TQ.
Intelligence Quotient or IQ has been shown by countless research studies to be one of the best predictors of how high someone will go in an organization. While you don’t need to be Einstein to make it to the top of an organization, being above average certainly helps. If you think about the complex problems that today’s leaders must solve, the many variables they must consider when making decisions, the sheer speed and pace of change, it should come as no surprise that a certain amount of mental horsepower is required to ascend to the top levels of large organizations. Research shows that IQ accounts for about 25% of a leader’s success.
Motivation Quotient or MQ: To make it to the top of any organization, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. If you don’t have the fire in the belly, the drive, determination and moxie, you are not going to be a high potential. That competitive drive, thrill of the chase and strong desire to win are all hallmarks of successful leaders. I have heard Fortune 500 CEOs talk about crushing the competition and being number one in their industry. That competitive drive and motivation is almost woven into their DNA.
Learning Agility or LQ: Korn/Ferry Lominger defines learning agility as the willingness and ability to learn from one’s experiences and apply those learnings to new and first-time situations. We like to say, “it is what you do when you don’t know what to do.” Lominger’s research has shown that learning agility is a major differentiator in terms of potential. Those higher on learning agility perform better in new and first-time situations and also perform better once promoted. Learning agility is a core element to having potential because this allows them to learn, grow and develop new skills and competencies. Check out the viaEDGETM assessment, Korn/Ferry Lominger’s latest tool for measuring learning agility.
eXperience Quotient or XQ: Experience is not a pre-requisite for having potential, but it is the potential magnifier and developer. If you have a smart, driven and learning agile person and then expose that person to the right competency-building experiences, you will greatly enhance their overall potential and value to the organization. While some organizations provide their high potentials a wide variety of experiences, moving them not only out of their functional areas but their comfort zones as well, many organizations continue to keep moving employees up the career ladder, rather than moving them around where the development opportunities are richer.
People Quotient or PQ: Since Dan Goleman had previously popularized the term EQ, Bob re-branded it to PQ, but in essence, PQ is essentially the same as EQ. We know from the research and from our own experiences that people skills and emotional intelligence matter. While top executives don’t need to be the highest on interpersonal savvy or approachability, having a significant deficit in these attributes or lacking in composure can certainly have negative impacts to the person or the person’s team. High turnover and other issues are a by-product of executives with a low people quotient. I think the adage that “people join companies and leave bad bosses” certainly still holds true.
Technical/Operating Skills Quotient or TQ: The ability to move a project from inception to completion is an important trait of successful leaders. While they don’t need to have their hands in every aspect of a project, the ability to provide the oversight and handle operations and the technical side of their job is critical. Most managers do fine at this and it is not something that typically derails people, but it is still important for success.
So, if you lay out the model visually, it would look something like this:
IQ, MQ and LQ are really the prerequisite abilities which, when paired with the right experiences, help develop both PQ and TQ. If you look at Lominger’s normative database from thousands of Voices® 360-degree feedbacks, we find the following:
So, back to the question of what does having potential look like. We would posit that using the 6Qs would be a good starting place. Some of our global clients add things like mobility, because if you are not willing to move, then you are not seen as a high potential. In today’s global workplace, the willingness to at least do an ex-pat assignment or move around the country is essential for many organizations.
The real differentiator though, and something that has not been widely measured until more recently, is learning agility. I will discuss learning agility in more depth in my next post.
To view the 6Q paper, visit our website at www.leadershipall.com/documents.
If you want to learn more about how we are helping our clients to identify their high potentials, contact us at www.leadershipall.com/contact.