Leaders need a high LQ to adapt


You may know your IQ. And, in recent years, you might have explored your EQ, Emotional Quotient.

Now, a CEO recruiter and adviser for Fortune 500 companies says board rooms are looking for leaders with a high “LQ,” Learnability Quotient. Having a high LQ indicates a leader’s ability to adapt to change.

For more than three decades, Clarke Murphy has helped the biggest companies name their next CEO, according to Business Insider reporter Marguerite Ward. Murphy is the CEO of executive search and recruiting firm Russell Reynolds.

“CEOs are not paid to have all the answers,” Murphy says. “Today, it’s about your ability to be agile.”

Adapting to Today’s Marketplace

In the past eight years, Murphy has advised more than 30 Fortune 500 CEO appointments and 60 board appointments with major companies, says Ward. These include multiple industries, including finance, retail and technology.

The events of 2020 forced leaders to double down on the adaptability trait, explains Murphy. Corporate executives had to move their employees to remote work in a matter of days — and ensure that their workers were safe.

“Weeks later, they had to respond to demands for racial equity as a result of nationwide protests with statements and pledges,” Ward reports. “The role of CEO changed, and leaders had to adapt.”

“What the COVID pandemic has brought on is the need for pretty rapid transformation,” Murphy observed. “Leaders not only have to have emotional intelligence; they have to have LQ, the ability to learn, listen, watch and communicate transformation.”

To meet the challenges of the future, learning will be lifelong, and a person’s “learnability quotient” will be key to their success.

Although IQ and EQ still provide the critical underpinning of national intelligence and emotional awareness, more may be needed to meet the challenges of the future, according to Changeboard, a global human resources consultancy. Developing your learnability quotient could help bridge the gap.

According to LQ experts Manpower Group, learnability is “the desire and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges throughout one’s work life.” It’s not about what people already know. It’s more about how quickly they can learn — and how readily they seek out opportunities for development.

To develop your own sense of LQ, Murphy points out three areas of emphasis:

1. Keep a pulse on the issues your clients and customers care about, such as reducing pollution or increasing data privacy, so you can come up with solutions or develop innovative products.

2. Show your boss that you’re continuing to learn and grow — and ask for feedback.

3. Explore the obstacles your direct reports encounter. Look for areas to create transformations for more efficiency within your organization.

“Successful leaders of the future will know these three things,” says Murphy. “They’ll know where they can grow and innovate to help their stakeholders.”

PepsiCo’s CEO, Ramon Laguarta, has helped his company reinvent itself over the past few years, as Murphy points out to Business Insider.

Laguarta has dealt with rapidly changing consumer habits that have posed a threat to the company. People are looking for healthier food options and environmentally friendly products, and that’s a potential risk for a company that sells snacks and uses plastic bottles.

“In response, Laguarta doubled down on a decades-long effort to cut calories in its products and engineer new, healthier ones,” emphasized Ward. “In the company’s 2021 statement to investors, the PepsiCo CEO spoke about the company’s special focus on no sugar beverages and its continued efforts to reduce added sugars, sodium and saturated fat.”

Laguarta also announced the company’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40% by 2030, and he introduced the launch of new climate-friendly agricultural products. As Ward points out, the company’s stock has been on a generally upward trajectory.

“Laguarta has really been able to usher in change,” Murphy said. “He’s an example of truly embracing transformation.”

More CEOS will be under scrutiny as the climate crisis worsens, observes Murphy. “Investors and consumers will want leaders who are able to respond to environmental, social and good governance (ESG) issues like the need for more transparency around diversity efforts, as well as carbon-cutting measures,” he says.

“I think the great leaders of the future will balance operational profit with sustainable leadership,” Murphy concludes. “They’ll adapt to changing times.”

And LQ will be a big part of that adaptability.

©2021 Linda Arnold Life 101, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is the founder and former CEO of a multistate marketing company. She’s also a psychological counselor and syndicated columnist. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org For information on her books, go to www.lindaarnold.org or Amazon.com


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