For more than one hundred years, IQ (Intelligence Quotient) was seen as an indicator of how good an employee was likely to be at doing their job. IQ assessments test mental agility and the ability to solve problems. IQ tests are easy to administer, and very much follow the pattern of left brain development practised in secondary school curricula. But on their own, they’re not a reliable predictor of future potential.

In 1995, the concept of EQ (Emotional Quotient) was popularised by the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ’. EQ is the ability to empathise, to see things from another person’s perspective and control one’s own emotions at the same time. People who have strong Q are more objective, better at creating solutions for customers and good at managing conflict between employees. The academic world went on to develop a theory to explain how EQ works and conducted global research to assess its role in the lives of successful people. These days, any self-respecting leadership programme spends a great deal of time opening future leaders’ eyes to the value of EQ, and coaching to develop it.

Nowadays we are beginning to discuss AQ (Adaptability Quotient). At the business level, AQ is “the ability to adjust course, products, services and strategy in response to unanticipated changes in the market.” For individuals, AQ is an individual’s ability to adjust to changes in real-time. A preparedness to develop new skills and evolve faster than other colleagues. People with high AQ:

  • Keep an open mind, try to see the world with fresh eyes and remain open to possibilities.
  • Keep an open heart, trying to see any situation through another person’s eyes.
  • Keep an open will, letting go of their ego and being prepared to live with the discomfort of the unknown.

So, AQ seems to combine facets of IQ and EQ, but with the added punch of being prepared to act in uncertain situations. As yet, there doesn’t appear to be specific tests to determine AQ, nor an academic theory to bolster the concept’s credibility.  But despite that, I think it’s worth talking about. My work in organisational culture change gives me daily insights into the behaviour of people from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and levels of education. Strip away those classifications and what we are looking at are human beings. In coaching culture change, we actively seek out employees who demonstrate AQ and we give them opportunities to shine. Happily, this is made easier by the generation shifts that are producing young people more motivated by opportunity and recognition than remuneration.