What is your CQ?

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You’ve heard about IQ, and you are probably familiar with EQ, but what about your CQ? I call it your “Character Quotient.” You are born with your Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Quotient, and while both can be expanded with education and experience, their capacity is largely determined at birth. Your CQ, however, is determined by the choices you make everyday—you are in control.
 
In my work as an executive coach, I am privileged to work with some of the smartest people in business. Some are high potentials, who have been stretched into a promotion that is a little bigger than their skill set. Others are brilliant in their technical fields but need buffing in other areas. Their IQ is never in doubt but it’s their EQ and CQ that usually need refinement.
 
How about you? Here is a sample of some of the CQ soft spots that can get you into trouble, or at least keep you from becoming a world-class leader:
 
  • Spinning the truth to put yourself, or your department, in a favorable light.
It’s so easy to cross this line. It’s not lying, but it’s not telling the unvarnished truth, either. Business cultures can be rough and competitive and it can be a punishing place for those who don’t get stellar results. When you are in the hot seat and senior management is breathing down your neck for an explanation of an event, how do you spin it?
 
Although it may seem masochistic, the best approach is the honest one. Because everyone knows the natural tendency is to CYA, it is refreshing to hear someone admit a mistake, or a misstep. It breeds trust and establishes you as transparent and credible. When something does happen that isn’t your fault, you will be believed.
 
Senior management wants to hear the truth, and the higher up you go, the more political it usually gets…jobs are fewer, salaries higher and risks are greater. Stick to honesty and take responsibility.
 
  • Talking about someone, instead of talking directly to him or her.
We all know that the right thing to do is to talk directly to someone, but we avoid it because it can be uncomfortable. It’s normal to gravitate toward those who share our views of the business and the cultural landscape. We feel safe and comfortable talking with people who see the world like we do. Unfortunately, dissecting a peer’s irritating or insensitive behavior doesn’t make the situation better. It only makes you look like the helpless victim who doesn’t have the guts or savvy to deal with the person.
 
If you need to give some feedback or provide heartfelt advice, rehearse it and time it, so it can be heard. Remember the old adage, “If you talk behind his back, won’t you talk behind mine?”
 
  • Not sharing credit
In the race for more power, authority and responsibility, it’s tempting to grab for as much gold as you can. After all, the better you look, the faster you rise, right? Not necessarily. “Climbers” are easily spotted. They’re the ones presenting to senior management, while their staff toils in the back room. They have usually made it very clear to their employees that all ideas-- and certainly any questions or complaints—must come to the boss.
 
Even democratic, open-minded leaders sometimes use “I” instead of “we.” It can be an innocent slip, simply because in the end the leader is accountable for end results. But overusing “I” will reflect poorly on the person over time and make the leader’s ego look inflated.
 
  • Making side deals
Leaders who make side deals usually do it to grant favors to good performers. After all, they reason, shouldn’t the rules be bent for the good people? I don’t disagree that the best performers should have the opportunities for growth and responsibility, and certainly for increased compensation. All of that can be done within the parameters of the policies and rules everyone is supposed to follow. But when it crosses the line and becomes a special deal others don’t have, it creates resentment.
 
The power to grant side deals makes the leader feel powerful. People want to be favored, so they jockey to become confidants. It creates a closed-door, political climate, where people are studying the leaders moves to figure out who is in and who is out. They lobby for decisions that will be in their own best interests.
 
Leaders with high integrity keep the playing field level for everyone. Their decisions balance the needs of the individual, team and organization. They make decisions that could be analyzed by anyone and found to be not always popular, but always reasonable and fair.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 354-9500, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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