17/02/2021 - 14:00

Intelligence balance right on Q

17/02/2021 - 14:00


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A blend of multiple intelligences will make the difference between us having good lives and great ones.

Intelligence balance right on Q
EQ is a crucial component in an individual’s toolkit. Photo: Annie Spratt

From time to time, every educator questions the relevant importance of a student’s book smarts and intellectual horsepower when it comes to determining future success.

While a certain level of IQ is important, another equally important quotient that is key to bolstering student success rates in the short and longer term is their emotional quotient, also referred to as emotional intelligence or EQ.

In simple terms, EQ it the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions at the same time as being able to influence the emotions of others.

When we teach children and teenagers to be emotionally smart, we increase their chances of academic success, help them to build stronger friendships, strengthen their resilience and reduce risk behaviours; all of which sets them up to succeed in the workplace.

Those advantages are hardly surprising when you consider those with higher levels of EQ are fully conversant with their triggers, or what causes their most adverse emotional reactions. This awareness allows older children and teenagers to act with self-control.

It would be easy to dream that success can be guaranteed by some magical combination of IQ and EQ.  

However, experts are now pointing to other forms of intelligence that play an important role in helping students thrive in adulthood.

The body quotient (BQ), moral intelligence (MQ) and adaptability quotient (AQ) all make up the multiple intelligences needed to succeed in life.

BQ is about how you manage your body or the ability to notice body sensations, listen to them and respond in a way that respects the body’s needs.

It involves the capacity to monitor things such as heartbeat, breathing and digestion, and trying to take on board those signals by responding in an appropriate way.

For example, when a wave of tiredness hits you after dinner, do you push through or accept your body’s signal and pursue some sleep? 

When a particular type of food causes you discomfort, do you ignore those signs and continue eating the source of discomfort or do you adjust your diet, recognising and actioning the messages that your body has passed on to you?

The question for educators is how far they should push in developing BQ.

And as we hear more and more about poor behaviour in the workplace, people being treated badly and disputes going unresolved, some experts consider the importance of having a moral code, or moral intelligence (MQ), as an essential ingredient to succeed at work and in life more generally.

Acting with integrity and honesty, and showing respect, acceptance, tolerance and understanding of others are all important components of an individual’s MQ. 

So, too, are transparent communications and being dependable and reliable.

At the heart of MQ is the ability to take responsibility for one’s action and the consequences: a quality that experts say is vital in today’s society, where everyone has rights, but many shirk the responsibility.

And then there is forgiveness, a rare but highly sought-after quality that many believe underscores our ability to lead engaging and fulfilling lives. We need to be able to let go of our mistakes as well as those of others.

While experts believe IQ, EQ, BQ and MQ are important in achieving success across every facet of our lives, there is another standout form of intelligence that is often ignored, despite its ability to provide a competitive advantage.

AQ, or adaptability quotient, refers to our ability to adapt and thrive in a fast-changing environment.

Underpinning the need for high levels of AQ is the fact we live in a period of the fastest technologically driven change ever, which threatens to leave many of us in its wake.

Not surprisingly, some experts believe AQ can make the difference between excellence and extinction.

True adaptability requires us to challenge our deeply held beliefs. Ironically, these are sometimes the very things that have been pivotal to our success in the first place.

AQ is not just the capacity to absorb new information, but the ability to work out what is relevant, to unlearn obsolete knowledge, to overcome challenges and to make a concerted effort to change.

Grit, resilience, mindset and mental flexibility are all important attributes that underpin an individual’s AQ.

While we once believed our ability to experience success in the workplace – particularly in relation to leadership promotions – was a function of our intellect, the focus is now on multiple intelligences.

A good dose of IQ will serve us well.

But a blend of other multiple intelligences will make the difference between us having good lives and great ones.

Our principals, teachers, parents and everyone else in the education community have a collective responsibility to develop those five Qs in our children and teenagers.

• Professor Gary Martin is chief executive officer of the Australian Institute of Management WA


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