What is your crisis quotient?
The 20th century gave us a long, two-part shorthand for describing the intellectual horsepower and emotional skills needed to work effectively with people: first, having an IQ, which is a measure measure intelligence, introduced in 1912, 78 years later, in 1990. , to EQ, which tracks people’s levels of perception and understanding of emotions. The 21st century has made it clear that endless disruption, constant crises, and ever-increasing ambiguity and complexity will be the norm. And it looks like we need one more Q to help identify skills that allow some people to thrive in these types of conditions.
This idea was crystallized for me in one recent conversation with Laura Fuentes, Hilton’s chief human resources officer. She shares the concept of CQ, or crisis quotient, a new leadership dimension that global hotel chains have adopted since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 to describe the attributes that leaders possess. need to excel. CQ, in her view, includes the ability to focus on what matters most and make decisions in the face of uncertainty.
“Before COVID, a lot of companies tended to expand their strategy and go after a million things,” says Fuentes. “We’ve all suffered over the years with irrational prioritization attempts.” But when the pandemic of the travel business comes to an end, Hilton, like other hotel companies, must find a way through the crisis without knowing how long it will last, and that means making decisions. difficulties, such as closing hotels around the world. , lay off workers and restructure corporate offices. “Once we focus on the things that will get us through this phase, we can move with more speed and agility,” she added.
Crisis also requires the psychological endurance of leaders. “When you go through these prolonged periods of uncertainty and volatility, it takes a toll on leaders and their teams,” Fuentes told me. “CQ means being able to find those deeper levels of connection, taking time for self-care, and providing reality checks on our ambitious goals.”
Not just a fad
Such efforts to capture our ability to navigate the world are not just another mass psychology fad. They are based on experience, unlike the Barnum effect (BE), named after the performer PT Barnum, which describes how we can be so gullible with vague descriptions of ourselves. For example, BE is why horoscopes, which link personality types to dates of birth, are so popular.
It’s easy to come up with a long list of competencies every senior leader must have, like strategic thinking and executive presence. But each C-suite leadership team, with powerful backing from talent and HR leaders, now grapples with the distinction between staking prowess and the X-factors that will distinguish it. their best leaders and give the company future competitive edge.
The executives, board directors, and HR leaders I work with have told me they’re rethinking those X-factors because many of the future leaders they’re betting on seem to be. lost ground in the past few years, while other employees suddenly rose to power as powerful leaders. In other words, they found that some people have higher CQs than others. CQs need to be part of the management dictionary as companies build their models to evaluate and develop future leaders.
CQs need to be part of the management dictionary as companies build their models to evaluate and develop future leaders.
So, what are the main components of CQ? For starters, it includes the ability to simplify complexity, prioritize, make decisions when you don’t have all the facts, and change decisions. “If I make a decision, I want to go with the decision,” Bei Ling, Wells Fargo’s head of human resources, told me in an interview. interview. “All of that was thrown out the window with COVID. We make a decision today, but tomorrow we may have to change it. It is the willingness to admit that we are not perfect and that we will have to adapt.”
High CQ also includes leadership with compassion and an understanding of what people need and want, and can balance a greater focus on listening with knowing how and when to deliver. difficult decisions. Many leaders, when faced with employees hurt by the pandemic, have had to figure out how to both help individuals and keep businesses afloat.
To start applying this new quotient, ask a few questions. What was the biggest leadership challenge of the past two years? Who handled them well? Who struggles? What are the popular patterns and themes? If we assume that complexity, ambiguity, and disruption will increase over time, what skills should your company’s future leaders have?
That list is by no means certain. Each company’s culture and context is unique, and there will be subtle highlights why some leaders thrive in your organization more than others. But the concept of CQ should be used to start a conversation rather than end it. Answering those questions will give you a head start in building your company’s CQ model.