The Multiple Intelligences Required to Facilitate Career Development Today

  • January 15, 2019

The career development landscape that employees and leaders face 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 that must address the varied expectations that come along with each one. Organic, project-centric, or customer-centric organizing principles result in structures that are more fluid and move away from traditional career pathing, and the rise of the gig economy and the contingent workforce complicates the ways in which employers and employees negotiate contracts and navigate relationships.

Add uncertainty about the future as a result of the accelerating pace of change and perpetual drive toward disruption and innovation to all of this. 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 into 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 relate to others effectively) and CQ (the curiosity required to identify and unlock opportunities).

Basic Intelligence (IQ)

“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. However, because of the evolving nature of cognitive work, which differs from material or manual labor, basic intelligence is 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 high performance 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.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

“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 mediated challenging interpersonal issues, confronted harmful conflict, or identified unproductive team dynamics (let’s face it, 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, especially in terms of career development. Taking meaningful steps forward and toward the definition of career success demands a willingness to look inward – at the good, bad, and ugly. It requires discipline, motivation, and drive to work pragmatically toward achieving high aspirations. But more than ever, career success also requires a robust support system and a network of advocates, which can only be cultivated and maintained by attending to strengthening social skills, relationship strategies, and empathy and all are all the domain of EQ.

Curiosity Quotient (CQ)

“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 have established and acknowledged literacies of intelligence, 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 workplaces are in desperate need of more curiosity. The improvements, innovations, 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 also demands curiosity: Looking around the corner to anticipate changing needs. Predicting future expectations. Foreseeing challenges and roadblocks. Preparing one’s self for an uncertain 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 in 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 using these practical exercises and strategies while planning and achieving your career goals.



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, and accountability).

Identify and focus on improving just one social skill
Engage with different people – those who aren’t the usual suspects 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.


Julie Winkle Giulioni partners with organizations worldwide to improve performance through leadership and learning.  Named one of Inc. Magazine's top 100 leadership speakers, Julie is the co-author of the international bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want  She is available for keynotes and training on career development, leadership, and other contemporary workplace topics. Find out more at

Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

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