Increasing Your Courage

09/27/2011 12:48 pm ET | Updated Nov 27, 2011

Have you ever wondered what your Intelligent Quotient (IQ) is? We all know bright people who just don't know how to handle certain situations. We say they have low Emotional Intelligence. Some people are quite smart, emotionally savvy, but refuse to take an educated risk to make a difference and turn their success into significance. We say they have a low Courage Quotient (CQ score). Over the last 4 years at some of my speaking engagements and through coaching, I have measured thousands of people and their level of Courage Quotient. We developed a proprietary assessment survey and validated it with a PhD who used statistics, particularly regression, factor reliability analysis and the Cronbach factor. We created a norm and continued to conduct surveys to identify characteristics of who would most likely be the courageous prototype. This survey included men and women from three different generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y). In general, participants' scores revealed their leadership styles tend to be Conventional, Compliant, a Challenger or Courageous (the highest CQ score). When we analyzed the results, we found that four factors correlated to a high CQ score.

The first factor we identified was that respondents who showed confidence in managing money, such as having control of a budget, received high CQ scores. Of the 41 percent of the survey's respondents that controlled some portion of their organization's expenses, more than half received CQ scores of seven or higher (on a scale from one to ten). This result suggests that financial acuity is a key factor in both the ability to Fit In, and Stand Out. If you are a financial executive or manager, you already have mastered this skill.

Second, quick thinkers who make fast decisions also had high CQ scores. One hypothesis for this result is that any person who makes more decisions in the same amount of time develops a capability and willingness to take risks. As an individual gains experience and confidence, he or she can then make decisions in a fast-paced environment. Plus, if the decision happens to be the wrong one, that individual, because of their ability to adjust, would then be able to make a correction through a subsequent decision.

The third factor we identified was related to communication style: the 51 percent of respondents who reported that they relied on direct and open communication received higher CQ scores than those that employed careful and closed communication. These results are supported by the fact that open communication allows for the free flow of information, which leads to informed decisions and new perspectives. Individuals who have access to the right information also have higher confidence in themselves and the validity of their choices.

The fourth factor we identified was that the highest CQ scores belonged to women born between 1975-1985 (late Generation X, early Generation Y). This result may be explained by the fact that women tend to use open communication more than men and tend to take decisive action more quickly -- in addition to possessing financial acuity. It may also be due to the tendency of this generation to move back home so they know the safety net provided by their parents emboldens their actions. There may be a maturity factor in this age group where some people have enough experience without having outdated technical skills. A combination of these factors leads to courageous actions.

We are about to expand the assessment population to a group of Chinese leaders based in Shanghai. Do you think there will be different results? If so, email me what you think we might discover and, where possible, we will test your hypotheses.