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The Multiple Intelligences Required to Facilitate Career Development Today


The career development landscape facing employees and leaders today is more complex than ever before. Flatter, delayered organizations offer fewer opportunities for promotions (or even lateral moves). Changing demographics place new pressures on the workplace with an employee population that spans four generations and must address the varied expectations that come along with each. Organic, project- or customer-centric organizing principles result in structures that are more fluid and less aligned with traditional career pathing. And the rise of the contingent workforce complicates the nature of relationships and responsibilities associated with the traditional employment contract.

Add to all of this uncertainty about the future as a result of the accelerating pace of change and perpetual drive toward disruption and innovation. According to the Institute for the Future (IFTF),85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been invented, leaving employees to wonder how to prepare for a career they can’t even envision.

Thriving in this ambiguous and fast-changing environment demands that employees marshal all of the resources available to them. They must tap multiple intelligences to ensure sustainable success. Beyond IQ or basic intelligence, today people must also develop and apply EQ (self-awareness and the ability to effectively relate to others) and CQ (the curiosity required to identify and unlock opportunities).


“People who boast about their IQs are losers.” – Steven Hawking

To simply get by in the workplace, employees must demonstrate a level of native intelligence and translate that into performance. Every job demands certain technical skills and abilities. But basic competence represents today’s table stakes. With greater – and global – competition, elevated customer expectations, and even the rise of artificial intelligence, maintaining the status quo means moving backward. Employees at every level must deploy their IQ not just toward performing today but toward learning, expanding their capacity, and growing their ability to contribute in the future.

But IQ is only one of the intelligences required for success today; and alone it falls woefully short of what’s needed for a brilliant, resilient career.


“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

Anyone who’s ever confronted challenging interpersonal issues, harmful conflict, or unproductive team dynamics (and who hasn’t), understands the importance of emotional intelligence. Since 1995 when Daniel Goleman popularized the idea of EQ, organizations have tried to train and instill it within their workforces because of the role EQ plays in driving business results.

But, EQ plays an equally important role in driving personal results – in terms of career development. Taking meaningful steps forward and toward one’s definition of career success demands a willingness to look inward – at the good, bad and ugly. It requires discipline, motivation, and drive. But more than ever, career success also requires a robust support system and network of advocates which can only be cultivated and maintained in the presence of social skills, relationship strategies, and empathy… all of which are the domain of EQ.


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Whereas IQ and EQ are established and acknowledged intelligences, CQ or ‘curiosity quotient’ was invented for and introduced in Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want.Today’s workplace is in desperate need of more curiosity. The improvements, innovation and disruptions required for many industries to thrive – and others to just survive – demand the inquisitiveness, wondering spirit, and passionate listening that’s at the core of curiosity.

But, effective, sustainable career development demands curiosity as well. Looking around the corner to anticipate changing needs. Predicting future expectations. Foreseeing challenges and roadblocks. Preparing one’s self for an uncertain, unpredictable future. It all requires the willingness to see the world with fresh eyes, question how things are today and how they might be tomorrow, engage is robust idea exploration with others, and experiment with new and different approaches. Staying ahead of the career curve demands this kind of curiosity.

All three intelligences – IQ, EQ and CQ – are required for career success in the dynamic environment we face today and into the future. Want to leverage the multiple intelligences to support your own career development? Consider these strategies.

IQ (intelligence/capability) EQ (emotional/social) CQ (curiosity)
  • Commit to continuous improvement and learning.
  • Regularly and honestly evaluate your objective performance, identifying the skills and abilities that contribute to or inhibit success.
  • Interview a top performer in your field and identify specifically what he/she does differently or more effectively than you.
  • Monitor your own reactions to changing conditions, disappointments, stress and pressures in the workplace.
  • Solicit honest feedback from peers and others on your interpersonal skills (such as communication, collaboration, empathy, accountability).
  • Identify and focus on improving just one social skill.
  • Engage with different people – those who aren’t the usual suspect and who might offer a different point of view.
  • Incorporate more questions into your interactions with others.
  • Maintain a running dialogue with others about how the business, customers and world are changing.

Originally published in Berrett-Kohler Publications.


  1. HI Julie

    A great article pointing to the skills and capabilities required to handle career development nowadays!

    I particularly like the ‘Curiosity Quotient’ you mention. Without this factor thriving in your career is so much harder.

    • Thank you, Anji! Curiosity was a hot topic during our presentations yesterday at ATD! It’s such a powerful addition to any skill or interaction… career development, leadership in general, and beyond!


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