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Introducing adaptability quotient

How to boost your prospects
Blog 73

The abbreviation AQ came up in the masterclass with Andrea Clarke and several participants asked what it meant. We’ve put together this article to give you the scoop of what it is, why it’s important, and how to develop it. Just as IQ and EQ are now widely prevalent, 'adaptability quotient' will soon be as familiar. Adaptability dates back to Charles Darwin as the quality any species needs most for survival, but the phrase AQ was first noted in 2010 by career coach Stuart Parkin as a way to enhance career possibilities.

Daniel Goleman, the famous psychologist who wrote Emotional intelligence, acknowledges adaptability as one of the twelve learned competencies in the Emotional and Social Intelligence Leadership Competency Model he developed with Richard Boyatzis. They define adaptability as: "Flexibility in handling change, juggling multiple demands, and adapting our ideas or approaches".

We're all aware how quickly the world is changing with the rapid advances in technology and globalisation, and it’s impacting how businesses strategise, how people lead, and how individuals manage their value proposition. Approaching your future with a sense of curiosity, a willingness to explore the world and to learn new skills will set you up for greater success. As stated in The World Economic Forum report, ‘The future of jobs’: "In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate".

Adaptability assessments are even becoming a part of the hiring process. In this TED talk (06:22), Natalie Fratto states that AQ is the single most important determinant for her to assess start-up founders, and that IQ and EQ matter less than how fast you’re able to adapt. The three ways she assesses for AQ are:

  1. Ask ‘what-if’ questions to see how the interviewee responds and if they're able to simulate possible scenarios for the future.
  2. Look for signs of 'unlearning', for a willingness to challenge what's known.
  3. Search for people who infuse exploration in their lives and business – which she calls a 'constant state of seeking'.

Here's some ideas for you to develop your own AQ:

  • Start with motivation Naturally, you have to be willing to change, and motivation is fundamental. However, motivation fades, as we explored in this article. That means we need to step up to a commitment, which is a mindset. Ask yourself: When have I been adaptive before and what behaviours did I demonstrate? What will be the benefit to me to be open to change? What will be the cost to me if I resist?
  • Acknowledge what needs to change It takes courage and commitment to step outside your comfort zone. Acknowledge when something needs to change. Ask for constructive feedback to give you a broader perspective of the situation. Be open, and be willing. Is it a new course to improve your skillset? Is it a new goal to move you beyond your current role? Is it a new habit you would really like to start?
  • Plan plan plan – What’s a different way you could think about 'that'? What options do you have to move forward? Think through all the possible scenarios. Ask yourself questions like: What else can I try? Who else could I ask for feedback? What are some possible obstacles? What can I do to ensure this change happens?
  • Execute – You’ve got your plan, now commit and take the first step. Get the ball rolling. See what exciting results may happen.
  • Reflect – Everyday review your progress. Pat yourself on the back for each step taken. Reflect on what's working and what isn’t. Is there something else you can try? Is there someone else you can enlist? What did you do well that you feel great about? What can you do differently?

We’re all about empowering people here at The Coach Place. Developing your understanding of AQ and how to go about cultivating it will add to your personal strengths and better prepare you for those jobs or challenges that may not even exist yet. Make time to think and let your mind mull over what’s happening, what else could be happening, and what you would like to see happening.

– The Coach Place Global

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