• Steve Sphar, JD, ACC

Competitive Advantages to Being a Fully Intelligent Leader


There are competitive advantages to being a fully intelligent leader.

This is hardly a questionable statement. Look more at what it implies to be “fully” intelligent: it’s even more than just being wise, it means running at a high level across all the important domains of leadership, including one that is commonly ignored.

Howard Gardner presented the principle of multiple intelligences in his 1983 book, Mindsets. What we think of as “clever” is frequently someone who is good at reasoning and analytical reasoning. We make use of the term IQ (intelligence quotient) to describe this intelligence, which allows somebody to evaluate complicated data and follow sensible trains of thought. This kind of intellectual skill is important, but it is only one kind of intelligence Gardner found.

A decade later on, Daniel Goleman recorded the significance of another kind of intelligence that he called Emotional Intelligence, or EQ. This intelligence was similar to exactly what Gardner had actually called Interpersonal Intelligence. EQ describes an intricate set of skills that enable a person to be self-aware, control their feelings and manage their social relationships. According to Goleman and other analysts, EQ is a far better predictor of success in the business world than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence & Leadership A high EQ leader has great self awareness, strong interpersonal abilities, and makes others feel valued. An effective leader today has to be able to articulate to a convincing vision to people, discuss why their work is tied to a noble purpose, motivate difficult work when times are challenging– in brief, a leader has to be great at understanding and describing exactly what is significant.

We can call this third kind of leadership intelligence “meaning-making.” It is a kind of intelligence Howard Gardner has actually called Existential Intelligence in his 2000 book, Intelligence Reframed. Gardner describes this intelligence as the capability to deal with the utmost problems of our presence, such as

Why are we right here?

Where are we going?

What is the definition of our efforts?

Spiritual Intelligence and Leadership Cindy Wigglesworth calls this set of meaning-making abilities Spiritual Intelligence, or SQ. In her 2012 book, SQ21, the Twenty One Abilities of Spiritual Intelligence, she makes the business case for management action based on wisdom and empathy. Wigglesworth’s study lays out 21 certain skills that help people connect to and act from their ultimate source of definition. Framing their actions in terms of significance helps leaders improve their organizations by centering their decisions and communications on what matters a lot of.

You may think that these are questions more suited to a poet or philosopher. In the realm of company, these questions offer the introducing ground for a leader who desires to develop an inspired and dedicated labor force. Ask yourself: how rapidly and plainly can you explain to your staff why your company exists, how your technique demonstrates your values, and how the work on their desk is serving to improve individual’s lives. Leaders high in Existential Intelligence or Spiritual Intelligence have the ability to do this, and that provides them a leg up on other leaders when it pertains to encouraging and retaining their most gifted individuals.

There is a natural development in these 3 domains of intelligence from an external focus to an expanded orientation that includes outer and inner focus. Sensible analysis, conventional IQ, is the most outside focused of these capability. The problem you are solving is “out there,” and can be observed and acted upon with little interior awareness or reflection. Lots of things can be efficiently processed using IQ alone, like budgets, schedules, jobs, contracts, company processes, markets, trends, etc. IQ has its proper restrictions. It is ineffective to see people and relationships as “issues to be resolved.” This is why Emotional Intelligence goes beyond depending solely on an external focus and includes an inner focus also. EQ is a mix of internal skills (self-awareness and self-regulation) and external skills (awareness of others and management of social relationships).

Existential or Spiritual Intelligence consists of the skills of IQ and EQ but goes further to include added abilities that require even deeper internal reflection. The process of revealing and internalizing your deepest concerns, so that your actions stream freely from your core, can produce powerful benefits to a leader.

This inner trip of discovery and internalization is hard. It takes some time, effort and a determination to do the honest work of exploration and reflection. Below are some examples of actions you can take to by yourself trip to enhance your meaning-making skills.

Why Values Matter The values of the leader matter to personnel. Expressing and modeling your core values helps you establish trustworthiness and stability with others. You could think such a workout is not necessary because you currently know your values, however if you have not taken the time to go with a values explanation process, you could be surprised by what you learn.

Embed your values into your routine. There are numerous means to do this: write your values on index cards and rotate the leading card daily, searching for chances to demonstrate that value; place your values into your communications in emails and at personnel meetings; include them to agendas; in deciding, include others in conversations about how a recommended choice aligns with values; encourage your personnel to clarify their own values and consist of these in your conversations; make values part of your performance appraisal and recognition programs.

Describe the “why” of organizational choices. When rolling out a new project, policy or initiative, consist of a communication piece that ties business need of the decision to the greater function that is being served. Explain how the decision promotes the objective of the company and assists it achieve its vision.

Invite conversations about the “why.” When individuals in your organization understand they can discuss the purpose and question and significance behind a leader’s choices, it promotes an environment for higher enthusiasm and engagement. It holds true that such openness can lead to challenging conversations and some quantity of “soul-searching.” But don’t let that dissuade you– your willingness to involve others in the joint search for definition will help develop your meaning-making skills and enhance the inspiration, dedication and imagination of your individuals.

When to utilize each, a fully intelligent leader integrates the finest of IQ, EQ and SQ and understands, more than intelligence, you could call that wisdom. Many wise leaders and business owners seek out a coach to help them develop these skills and intelligences at a deeper level.

About the Author

Steve Sphar is a certified executive coach and leadership consultant with over 25 years experience helping leaders create sustained positive change. Steve is experienced in the SQ21 assessment for Spiritual Intelligence and has co-taught the SQ21 certification class with Veronika and Debbie.

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