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August 2020
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TD Magazine

Decency Quotient

In a commencement address to 2020 graduates, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga advised the future leaders to combine their intelligence and emotional quotient (a measure of emotional intelligence) with a decency quotient.

"DQ means wanting something positive for everyone in the workplace and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued," writes Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, in the Harvard Business Review article "For Leaders, Decency is Just as Important as Intelligence." He adds: "DQ implies a person has not only empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them."

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DQ goes a step further than EQ—the self-awareness of emotions, both others' and one's own. Boulding also makes the point that having a high EQ is useless if it's manipulated for self-interest. While EQ doesn't necessarily mean doing the right thing, DQ demands it.

In impressing upon graduates the importance of DQ, Banga noted three qualities that all good leaders have: urgency, curiosity, and competitiveness. However, as Banga says, "When a person brings their basic human decency to each one of these qualities, you get the difference between a good leader and a great one capable of actually changing things for the better."

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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