Leadership intelligence isn't just about being smart

by 06 Mar 2012

Leaders have long been promoted to senior positions due to their intelligence and skills, which are easily quantifiable traits.  Now the trend is moving towards recognising other capabilities as highly regarded, if not essential to hiring, or promoting, a great leader for an organisation.

While having a high IQ is a required attribute, there are many more factors that come into play when choosing the right leaders for a business. There are three more “intelligences” beyond being academic that increase a leader’s effectiveness and are vital to an individual’s and a business’s success.

Emotional intelligence

EQ is about self-awareness and the ability to correctly identify your feelings and motivators, such as what annoys you or makes you happy. It is also about being able to control and manage these emotions.

A leader able to identify their emotions and what causes them will be able to react in a more planned manner. Leaders who do not develop their emotional intelligence have difficulty in building good relationships with those around them, and therefore will not be able to manage them as effectively.

Social intelligence

SQ is not just about self-awareness, but also how you are reflected in the world – how you appear to other people. It is related to identifying other’s emotions and being able to use this information to relate to others effectively. A leader with a high SQ can detect how others are feeling - whether this is an employee, superior or client - and use this information to tailor their approach accordingly, building a strong and trusting relationship with that person.

Spiritual intelligence

This is not based around religion, rather it is a template individuals can use to continue to grow as a person, whether this is at work or in another area of life. Spiritual intelligence is about looking beyond yourself and realising what is bigger than you at this moment. People with high spiritual intelligence are content within themselves, have a deep knowledge of their values and are able to live those values in everything they do.

Leaders with high levels of Spiritual intelligence are always open to growth and therefore will continue to develop as a person and as a leader.

Benefits for leaders

More than ever, leaders need to be able to relate to their employees, have empathy and understand others’ point of view. Great leadership is about understanding the people you lead, their strengths, motivators and areas for growth, as well as your own, and using this information to make informed decisions.

Without a strong relationship between leaders and their employees, the business will suffer. Having a deeper understanding of people’s strengths and weaknesses, and of yourself and your motivators, will enable you to better engage staff and inspire them to do their best.

Conversations are a key factor in building these relationships. They build affiliations and sustaining organisational effectiveness.  An organisation which encourages conversations and uses the different types effectively - from coaching conversations to difficult conversations - can build healthy organisational cultures that challenge thinking, engage staff and develop new possibilities.

Research commissioned by the Institute of Executive Coaching found that one of the most significant skills people gain from executive coaching is the ability to conduct effective workplace conversations - such as giving feedback to colleagues and staff, brainstorming for innovation and conducting candid conversations around performance and engagement.

By developing conversational ability, leaders can more effectively maintain relationships, set expectations and lead their employees to achieve desired business results.


About the author

Julie Parkinson is director of the Institute of Executive Coaching, which works with organisations to provide innovative leadership and coaching support to improve the performance of individuals, teams and organisations. Visit http://www.iecoaching.com/



Most Read