Learning Quotient (LQ): What It Is, Why It’s Important

Two people looking down at the phrase "Passion Led Us Here" written on the sidewalk, representing a passion for learning, expanding our Learning Quotient

A relatively new kind of “quotient” is gaining recognition and prominence in workplace hiring practices. The Learning Quotient (LQ) refers to our willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new situations and challenges in our work lives. It refers to our “learnability.” Along with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) assessments, the practice of testing a candidate’s learning quotient as part of the recruitment process is gaining traction. Understanding LQ and learning how to enhance it benefits both career practitioners and their clients.

The Importance of Maximizing Learning Quotient (LQ)

Why is LQ important to our clients? The workplace is constantly evolving. Technology is rapidly changing how we learn, think, perform our jobs, and envision the hiring process. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen clients transition from in-office work to remote work and even to hybrid roles. The situation demanded we quickly pivot and learn many new skills and technologies. In order for our clients to succeed and advance in their careers, they must continue to develop their capacity for learning, while at the same time adapting to and managing change.

As career professionals, we, too, need to learn new skills, observe changing labour market trends and developments, and embrace new challenges beyond our comfort zones. We will need to guide our clients on how to steadily increase their learning quotient. Progressive employers are designing new ways to recruit and retain employees by offering innovative skills development programs and training on new technologies. The skill of learning will be a major driver of career mobility and professional success.

Enhancing LQ through Technical Skills Development

Last year, I decided to tackle a project which inspired me to improve my technical skills. I ordered fitness equipment, but the package arrived without instructions. It seemed simple enough to put together, but when I removed the many pieces from the box, I realized I needed a strategy or method for efficiently assembling this equipment. I could have hired someone, but that strategy would have incurred additional costs without enhancing my learnability. I am a visual-kinesthetic learner, so I checked out the assembly instruction videos for the equipment. Breaking down the task into manageable steps made the challenge easier and expanded my LQ at the same time!

Applying Systems Theory to Enhance LQ

Assembling the fitness machine made me think of the concept of systems theory — how all relationships, systems, or elements are interconnected. Systems theory is can be summed up with this simple definition: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Put another way, anything we do as individuals impacts those around us and vice versa.

By extension, everyone in our sphere of influence and our networks has the potential to support us in expanding our learnability or LQ so that we’re equipped to grow in both our careers and our personal lives. We just have to be open to the opportunities.

And related to my experience of assembling the fitness equipment, if any of the pieces were put together incorrectly, it would have affected the efficiency and safety of the machine. I assembled the equipment with perseverance, which gave me greater confidence to tackle other technical challenges. I increased my learning quotient (LQ) in mastering new skills that were not simple for me. In fact, I progressed from being consciously incompetent (awareness) at assembling the equipment, to becoming consciously competent (learning). However, becoming unconsciously competent (achieving mastery) will still require practice.

Twelve Strategies to Elevate LQ

As change agents, we can help our clients build their LQ muscles through the following twelve strategies:

  1. Model learning behaviours. Ask your client relevant questions. What have they learned through their experiences or challenges? What strategies did they use to master new skills? Encourage and support continuous learning for improvement and enrichment.
  2. Coach and mentor your client on tackling new learning initiatives. Address gaps and set goals with them to enhance their marketable skills.
  3. Motivate your client to keep their brain agile and creative through hands-on active learning initiatives and simple exercises, including word searches, mind-mapping, problem-solving exercises, and math exercises.
  4. Identify your client’s individual learning style. A wide variety of learning styles exist, including visual, auditory, verbal, physical, kinesthetic, logical, social, and solitary. Your client may have one or more of these styles. Various online assessments can help them to identify their learning style(s).
  5. Help your client to recognize that the more they learn, the more opportunities they open for themselves. We cannot expect our clients to learn every new skill possible; instead, we want to encourage them to stay updated within their field and become more curious about honing new skills.
  6. Remind the client that learning is simply knowledge until it is applied in practice. Provide your client with opportunities to apply their learning; even if they don’t succeed at first, the experience will enhance their resilience and growth.
  7. Promote blue-sky thinking — brainstorming without limits.  Each week, work with your client to freely brainstorm and formulate novel ideas and solutions that could be applied to a new project or a problem. Have your clients continually challenge themselves with new perspectives by asking why and how, and identifying alternative solutions to problems. This strategy will improve their LQ.
  8. Consistently encourage your clients to learn new concepts or form innovative ideas daily or weekly. Learning can be formal or informal and occur through social media or reading the news. Emphasize a higher learning mindset.
  9. Encourage your clients to keep a journal and record their learning progress. How do they plan to apply the principles they learned in practice? What new insights have they gained through their learning journey?
  10. Champion your client’s learning progress, whether fast or slow. Employers want to hire adaptive learners, yet not everyone learns quickly. Some people have a steeper learning curve than others. Therefore, guide your client to be patient with themselves and help them learn in a manner that’s best for them.
  11. Challenge your client to learn in ways that will stretch their skill sets. Learning can involve digital platforms, complex problem-solving scenarios, team-building exercises, independent models, asynchronous, in-person models, and others.
  12. Practice fitness! Regular exercise, meditation, and overall fitness can stimulate learning and cognition. Encourage your clients to exercise each day to benefit their physical health and wellness. Fitness also stimulates creativity, allowing them to tackle higher goals.

Discover more ways to help your clients thrive in the ever-changing world of work. Consider enrolling in the engaging Certified Work-Life Strategist course. The course focuses on skills, strategies, and tactics we need to help our clients get the most out of living, learning, and working.

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Conny Lee is a Certified Holistic Narrative Career Practitioner, Online Business Manager for coaches, Certified Career Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist, and Certified Résumé Strategist. She is focused on supporting people to create the career, business, and life they truly desire and love. To learn more, visit Conny’s website at thevisionaryva.com. When she isn’t working, Conny enjoys reading, listening, learning anything related to personal development, spending time with her family, and working out.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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This is wonderful information Lori. And it came just in time for me. I am communicating with a parent who would like me to help her son with career exploration. He graduated from high school last year and is in an apprenticeship that he is not really connecting with.

Hi Jude, I am so glad that you have found this article valuable in regards to how learnability can impact career exploration. Thank you for sharing.

Understanding our own LQ or Learning Quotient, and how we best learn and adapt to new situations helps us grow and better connect with our learning experiences.

Love the content and the Twelve Strategies to Elevate LQ. Well done Lori and Conny.

Thank you, Gayle! Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you Gayle!!

Hi Lori and Conny,
A new piece for me was blue-sky thinking. I thought of ways I will incorporate this way of thinking and promote creativity into my career practice and life. 🙂 Thanks for this article, it was great information!

Thanks Carolyne. Yes! That was a part of Lori’s contribution and I loved it too!

You’re very welcome, Carolyne!