It’s Time To Measure AQ (Authenticity Quotient)
As we continue to expand our understanding of what comprises excellent leadership we have seen the progression of metrics that measure our abilities to lead.
In the early days, Intelligence was revered and we measured IQ as an indicator of a leaders success. As time went on, we realized that intelligence was not a true yardstick. For example Henry Ford was deemed ignorant and even an “idiot” in many circles as he lacked a basic understanding of history, science, and the world around him. But he was a successful leader nonetheless.
Decades later, Emotion came into the formula. It was theorized that the best leaders had a strong emotional quotient (EQ) that kept them calm, in control, and rationale. Then leaders like Steve Jobs came along and reset that definition. He was successful but showed that his driving emotions could make a company great. Unfortunately, his EQ was also divisive and not enough to sustain Apple in it’s current iteration.
As the digital age developed, Social quotient (SQ) became the new measure. People felt that a person who was well connected, networked, and in tune with social media had the best advantage in leadership. This has become more measured and synonymous with a digital presence than other traits. However, most leaders (studies show up to 68 percent of CEOs) have no presence on any social media platform. This includes about 400 of the Fortune 500 CEOs without any SQ.
Folded around this, many have tried to find that magic Leadership quotient (LQ) that will offer a true grade of how leaders measure up. Many leaders have peered into Culture quotient (CQ) and people such as Stephen Covey and Dave Arnott have tried to dissect the various components of a leader’s composition, jettisoning the “nature vs nurture” model and adopting various formulas of the above in it’s place.
While these are all somewhat valid guidelines, they cannot truly measure what goes on inside a person’s mind and heart. We can measure the success of a specific leader, and even an entire organization, by a more sustainable metric:
Authenticity Quotient (AQ)
My preferred definition of Authenticity is someone who is who they say they are. Some leaders adopt a “fake it ’til you make it” mindset, which establishes a hypocrisy and tainted working relationship from the very start. Others state “this is who I am” but have hidden agendas and change when it’s expedient (or when pressured) against what they portray.
While not a new concept, AQ is not widely embraced … yet. One of the best insights thus far is from the Robertson Lowstuter consulting group. In their experience, Authenticity is genuine throughout, willingly humble, and looks out for the welfare of others. These leaders don’t use their position as a license for fulfilling their own desires through fear or manipulation. Leaders with high AQ lay out checks and balances that enable them to be held to account and keeps things transparent.
AQ is defined as the measure of a leader’s transparency, openness, and willingness to learn, grow, and serve others.
A leader with a high AQ will also influence their organization to be transparent with solid checks and balances. Instead of abusing the “trust but verify” mantra (which is not true trust), it’s the ability to create a symbiotic culture where everyone is engaged in collaboration and improving the overall performance of the team and company. When systems like this are in place, companies are usually sustainable long after the leader with high AQ has departed, as this type of culture tends to yield more connected people and an open, honest work environment.
Leaders with high AQ will not necessarily have the best IQ. They can function with a lower EQ when they realize who they are and worked towards improving their professionalism and interpersonal behaviors. They are congruent in their SQ because who they are online is the same as who they are offline, in all manners of groups and networks. And they don’t have to be connected at all to enjoy sustained influence, credibility, and success.
Let’s start the conversation and pursuit of AQ in raising the bar on leadership in our world. When leaders are willing to be open, trustworthy and credible, every organization can benefit from it’s reach.
(image created via canva)