Career

What’s LQ and How Does It Help You at Work?

A business leader and an academic prescribe an emotional approach to success and happiness at work.

When Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, addressed an audience of CEOs and government leaders at last week’s Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City, they probably were surprised by the nature of his advice. “If you want to be respected,” he told the group, “you need LQ. And what is LQ? The quotient of love, which machines never have.” 

At the forum, according to an article in Quartz, Ma acknowledged that good leaders need IQ, EQ (related to emotional intelligence), and LQ. He was optimistic about humans’ ability to find solutions to the world’s biggest challenges — including poverty, climate change, and disease — by using the power of their imagination to outthink machines. (See a related article about creativity as a top skill needed in 2020.)

Ma is a former teacher who launched the world’s largest e-commerce company, so he spoke from experience in both worlds when he warned leaders to  pay attention to education when it comes to technology. He said that we are teaching children that machines are better than humans, a mindset that will hinder their ability to find jobs in a future dominated by AI and computing.

A machine does not have a heart.

“A machine does not have a heart,” he told the audience, or a soul, or beliefs. “Human being[s] have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines.” These qualities are essential, Ma said, to pursuing a humane globalization.

More Focus on Soft Skills

Annie McKee is also preaching the importance of emotional intelligence, specifically in the workplace. McKee is a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the author of How to Be Happy at Work, published this month by Harvard Business Review Press. McKee writes in Harvard Business Review that we tend to sabotage our happiness in the workplace by developing a destructive mindset and approach — what she calls “happiness traps.” They include ambition (hypercompetitiveness and winning at all costs), doing what’s expected of us rather than what we want, and overwork. These may be many a corporation’s recipe for success, but are harmful to individuals when taken to the extreme, she said.

McKee writes that finding happiness at work begins with “honing your emotional intelligence” to figure out which trap you’ve fallen into. Then, she said, you can focus on the three things known to increase professional satisfaction: meaningful work, enduring hope, and workplace friends.

About that last part, McKee writes: “Warm, positive relationships are important at work for very human reasons. Since the beginning of time, people have organized into tribes that labor and play together. Today organizations are our tribes. We want to work in a group or a company that makes us proud and inspires us to give our best efforts. We also want people to care about us and value us as human beings. And we need to do the same for others.”

Watch a video of McKee talking about the importance of workplace relationships.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.