Harnessing CQ, or Creative Intelligence, for Success

by Levi Lindsey

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In the twentieth century, hard work combined with a high IQ meant success for many leaders. In the 1990s, the notion of adding a high EQ, or “emotional intelligence” quotient (i.e., one’s ability to connect with others on an emotional level), in the mix became the new norm for successful leadership. However, in today’s dynamic and rapidly changing professional world, to be successful you can’t just only rely on your IQ and EQ. You also need to be creative. Creativity is credited for giving people and businesses a competitive edge. The good news is that, like EQ, we can cultivate our CQ, or “creative intelligence” quotient, in order to be more effective leaders.

At its core, creative intelligence is all about knowing what is meaningful to people and builds upon your existing IQ and EQ. But how does one cultivate their CQ?

In Bruce Nussbaum’s book Creative Intelligence, he highlights five competencies of CQ: Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making, and Pivoting. The first step toward cultivating your CQ competencies is to become comfortable with uncertainty, a task easier said than done. As humans, we find comfort in the routine and the familiar and feel threatened when we don’t know or cannot reasonably predict an outcome. Creativity, however, usually arises from uncertainty. In order to embrace uncertainty, organizations must harness elements of trust, psychological safety, and strong teams. With these environmental factors in place, we can learn how to overcome our fear of uncertainty and improve our CQ by collaborating across physical and organizational boundaries. It takes time and practice to establish the relationships that allow teams to think out loud without worrying about ridicule. So next time you’re working on a project, make an effort to break down those silos and ask for contributions from every member of your team. Embrace the unknown.

About the author
Levi Lindsey