When I was researching business schools, Fuqua’s idea of, “leaders of consequence” or “good leaders who create good consequences” stood out. As someone looking to grow as a business leader, who cares about more than just the bottom line, it is the primary reason I accepted my offer of admission.

When I got to Fuqua, “consequential leadership” was alive and well. For example, we learned about the importance of diversifying portfolios alongside the importance of diversifying teams. We learned about GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) alongside inequity gaps. While these discussions were memorable, I still did not feel like I understood the core of what it meant to be a leader of consequence.

Then, Dean Bill Boulding started talking about IQ + EQ + DQ:  intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, and decency quotient.

Dean Boulding emphasized the need for a decency quotient alongside intellectual and emotional intelligence while writing in the Harvard Business Review:  

“DQ implies a person has not only empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them…DQ implies a focus on doing right by others.” 

DQ was the differentiation I sought in leadership. However, the community did not have a strong sense of how to define the phrase “DQ”. It became clear that we needed to crystallize the meaning of DQ in order to create meaningful opportunities to hone it. The Gender Equity Working Group, a student group committed to systemically reducing gender inequity at Fuqua and beyond, took on this challenge.

We spent months exploring what it means to be decent with our peers. We shared some stories with each other, such as:

“A second-year student helped a first-year student prepare for an interview not only in the late hours of the night, but also the night before her wedding.”

“Members of the cabinet of my section individually called and checked in with 75 classmates to see how they were holding up in the early weeks of quarantine and isolation during the pandemic.”

The more stories we collected, the clearer it became that although each example of DQ was unique, each converged on shared success. We can (and should) succeed and bring others along with us.

Our definition became clear. At Fuqua, decency is, “achieving greatness through doing right by others.”

We believe that definition also has four underlying principles:

  1. Embrace habits of humility and empathy to learn about different perspectives and needs.
  2. Act with integrity by being transparent, honest and accountable to ourselves and others, when it’s easy AND when it’s hard.
  3. Care and respect towards all.
  4. Elevate others and the community.

Now that we have defined DQ, we can more clearly see out how DQ shines through in every aspect of the Fuqua experience: our interpersonal interactions, our classroom discussions, in our building, and our engagement with those beyond the walls of Fuqua. I look forward to sharing more about that in our forthcoming follow up, DQ can’t be contained to one article!