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The World Is Pretty Sick Right Now. So How Do You Lead Yourself Well?

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The idea of 4Qs of great leadership (Intellectual Quotient, Emotional Quotient, Physical Quotient, Meaning Quotient) has been on our minds for a while, and this article tells that story for the first time. 

Right now, the demands of leaders are growing by the hour. Even before the COVID crisis gripped our planet, this shape-shifting world of increasing complexity and expectations was already forcing leaders to provide clarity, vision, and motivation in ways they’ve never been expected to before. Then the pandemic hit, and it got a whole lot tougher overnight.

Our big question for today is this:

How are you leading yourself well right now, so you show up as the leader you want to be, and others need you to be?

In many ways, leadership is a lot like sports. A good coach will tell you that they rarely learn anything purposeful when their team wins. Sure, it feels great to win and provides fulfillment that can be exhilarating. But in the end, it’s a fleeting moment that leaves little imprint. On the flipside, coaches know that they learn, improve, and self-actualize when their team loses. Only during that adversity, challenge, and failure does the real learning and insight leave its mark.

To finish pulling the sports parallel through (by the way, I really miss sports right now…), let’s agree that we’re all losing to some degree right now. So, in this time, we have the enormous opportunity to learn, gain insights, and improve ourselves and those around us. In short, it’s ironically a great time for us as leaders to improve ourselves so we can face the challenges of today and the inevitable opportunities of the future.

And to do this, we need to demonstrate the highest level of self-care possible. We need to lead ourselves well. That’s the framework for our growth and development. If we aren’t putting on the proverbial oxygen mask before helping others, how can we lead?

At Smart Savvy + Associates, our belief is rooted in human-centric leadership that connects to people and their essential requirements. We believe that starting in the place of Leading Yourself Well is the foundation point for great leaders to lead lives that matter and inspire others to follow.

One way we can bring focus and action to leading ourselves well is to consider the 4 Quotients of what makes a great leader (and human).

 The 4 Q’s of a great leader

1. Intellectual Quotient

Learning is a never-ending cycle, and in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, it’s increasing as an imperative. We seek out immersive and interactive learning, with a focus on the full spectrum of skill building and capacity creation. We are always looking out for ways to learn, and then share that learning with our teams and colleagues.

2. Emotional Quotient

Matching our need for learning is an equal need to grow our capacity for empathy, for motivating ourselves and others, and for increasing our agility. We are constantly looking for new ways to collaborate, new ideas on improving team dynamics, and new pathways to better relationships at work. We embrace the coaching mindset and we lean into our natural curiosity and our ability to ask powerful questions to push us forward.

3. Physical Quotient

As evolved leaders, we demonstrate something emergent known as bio-empathy. We are dedicated and committed to self-care and physical well-being because we know it sets the course for our success. We practice things like mindfulness and downshifting to ground ourselves and stay fresh and energized. We also show a compassion and care for our planet and exercise thoughtful responsibility in our consumption and environmental impact.

4. Meaning Quotient

Leaders are working in constant pursuit of meaning and grounding in this complex and challenging world. We connect to the spirituality that resonates with us as individuals, we seek self-actualization as part of our personal and professional journey, and we embrace play and joy as fundamental requirements of the human condition.

Closing thoughts

Each of the 4Q’s leads to rich reflection, challenge, and discovery. They’re the areas that great leaders will focus on in order to thrive. As you move forward as a leader, here are some questions to reflect on:

  • What can I do today to lead myself well?
  • Which Quotient am I neglecting right now? What’s one step I can take to change that?
  • Which essential requirement of leadership will propel me forward in the future?

An invitation

You don’t have to go it alone. Having an objective sounding board could help you achieve clarity and lead yourself well. Consider working with a coach. A coach partners with you to help you:

  • Create a meaningful, results-oriented action plan
  • Clarify self-limiting truths and beliefs
  • Engage in self-reflection
  • Ensure you are nurturing all 4 Q’s as you move forward

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