Alibaba founder Jack Ma says to be a successful leader you need EQ, IQ, and LQ

Alibaba’s Jack Ma says LQ must be in the mix.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma says LQ must be in the mix.
Image: Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid
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Good leaders generally develop different kinds of intelligence. There’s old-fashioned IQ of course, their intelligence quotient. There’s EQ, the quotient related to emotional intelligence; this concept turned fashionable in management circles within the last few years. And then there is what Jack Ma calls “LQ.” 

“If you want to be respected, you need LQ,” said Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, who spoke in New York today (Sept. 20) to a packed audience of CEOs and government leaders at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. “And what is LQ? The quotient of love, which machines never have.”

At the forum, a successor of sorts to the Clinton Global Initiative annual confab of movers and shakers, Ma said he believes humans will find solutions for the most dire issues facing global development today, including poverty, climate change, and disease, by having confidence in their imaginations and their ability to out-think machines. But Ma said the answers won’t come from people over age 50, mainly because older people tend to worry too much.

Pay attention to young people, he urged the audience, because they don’t worry as much about the future. They worry instead about the world’s leaders not changing in the here and now, and not using technology properly.

Ma, a former teacher, says he always warns government leaders to also “pay attention to education,” because right now we’re teaching children the wrong thing: that machines are better than humans. He believes this mindset will cost young people jobs in a future dominated by AI and computing.

Rather than encouraging humans to become more like machines, we should be building our machines to be more like humans, he suggested.

“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. These are the qualities that will allow people to pursue globalization that is humane.