Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on September 20, 2017 in New York City. Heads of state and international business leaders met to discuss global issues and challenges to economic growth. The inaugural year of the forum was held concurrently with the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
If you're keeping score at home, a person with high EQ (emotional intelligence) knows how to work well with others -- customers, bosses, coworkers, vendors, etc. -- and how to understand people and their emotions. IQ is high knowledge, the kind you need to keep pursuing for learning, memory, focus and problem-solving.
In the meantime, a virtual unknown contender is steadily rising through the ranks and making headlines: LQ.
LQ? Yes, it's a thing and it has a formidable spokesperson in Alibaba Group founder and chairman Jack Ma: "If you want to be respected, you need LQ," the leader of the Chinese internet giant said at a recent Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York.
"And what is LQ? The quotient of love, which machines never have," said Ma.
He believes no matter how smart machines are becoming, the world's biggest and most pressing problems will be solved not by machines, but by smart humans with the capacity for compassion, understanding and, of course, love. To Ma, this is the human secret weapon that will outthink machines and drive progress.
"A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have soul, and [a] machine does not have a belief. Human being have the souls, have the belief, have the value; we are creative, we are showing that we can control the machines," he said. Ma speaks about the need to pursue a globalization that is humane.
Jack Ma's Love Machine
First of all, if you're new to Jack Ma, consider him the head of the "Amazon of China," a self-made billionaire (currently worth US$46.4 billion) known for his rags-to-riches story that catapulted Alibaba Group to its current ranking as the 6th largest retailer in the world, according to Forbes.
And he's been campaigning for LQ and a higher love in business for a few years now. Some examples of its benefits:
At the Apec CEO Summit in Manila in November, 2015, Ma shared LQ in a conversation with Benigno Aquino III, then-president of the Philippines. Convinced of its competitive advantage in business for his own country, the president quipped, "The love quotient enables the Filipino to go really to the needs of the client that he is talking to, which is not available elsewhere."
Introducing LQ to an audience at a South China Morning Post conference in Hong Kong in December, 2016, Ma challenged Chinese corporate leaders to "go beyond tapping a high IQ and even a high emotional quotient (EQ)" when dealing with conflict, rivals, and resistance in foreign markets.
Conflict avoidance is a hallmark of Chinese companies for cultural reasons, so Ma didn't mince words about breaking old habits to break into new markets.
"We're afraid of confrontation. So, when it comes to a vital moment, we back out," Ma said. "In a business, when you're growing up, you're always in a conflict. Progress is how to solve problems in a conflict situation."
He explained a high LQ as the supreme method for adapting to a new and noble way of doing business.
"You can become a money machine, but what's the use of that?" said Ma. "If you're not contributing to the rest of the world, there's no LQ ... Your love is you have to be principled. That's the bottom line."
Ma says that even if one possesses high IQ and high EQ but lack the LQ, "you will not be respected." He adds, "Respect the future, respect the young people."
While the concept of leveraging your "love quotient" for business is still somewhat cryptic and largely undefined, Ma's advocacy for entrepreneurs to focus on solving big problems through more loving solutions has enormous potential
As I investigated Ma's interpretation and understanding of LQ for this article, I came upon several take-aways that I'll leave for my readers:
Love by being a teacher to the student. A good teacher always expects his students to do better than him. This is what Jack Ma learned in his entrepreneurial journey.
Love by always endeavoring to know who is better than you and choose to learn from and work alongside that person unselfishly.
Love by sharing your knowledge and expect the other person to be better.
Love by always hiring people who show potential to be better than you are. Then love some more by training them, disciplining them, and supporting them.
Love your teams (as leaders) and coworkers despite differences of opinion, and respect them with dignity in the journey toward a common goal or mission.
Love by respecting and honoring other generations outside of your own.
Measure your success (or your company's success) not by your worth but how many problems you solved and how many people you helped in the world. This is the bottom line of your love quotient.