Monday, 1 June 2009

Leadership vs IQ vs EQ

The hierarchy of a traditional organisation structure had it's origins in the assumption that 'Bosses' were better educated and had a higher IQ than 'Workers' - with the corollary that therefore important decisions should be referred to these intelligent and important people. This premise of 'command & control' has left many organisations with a 'pyramid' structure that has bottlenecks and disempowerment built-in- 'Our organisation isn't like that' I hear you say.... and my question would be to ask you how your organisation handles the signing of expenses (assuming you aren't an MP of course), purchases or holiday requests. I'd be prepared to bet that for most of you, someone else's signature is required - and that the someone else is senior to you. This implicit assumption that 'no-one can be trusted unless they're really very important' leads, in my experience, to communication breakdown, time delays, the supression of innovation and a lack of engagement of managers and staff from the middle downwards.

So let's test the premise. What does an IQ of 140 or an HE qualification actually tell us about a person's fitness to lead? Would the possessor of these be a better leader than someone with an IQ of 125 and 5 good GCSE passes? I think you know the answer.

If we want to develop innovative, supportive and high-performing organisations - we need to make people feel more involved, more empowered and more accountable - rigid hierarchy works against all three. Tom Peters is currently propounding the argument that we should stop trying to recruit qualifications and experience and start attracting and developing talent - I couldn't agree more. Yet, how often have you seen the acronym AQE on job adverts? Alongside the phrase 'salary based on Age, Qualifications & Experience'....

I do, however, see a strong case for suggesting that a high EQ - the measure of emotional intelligence - correlates quite directly to the ability to inspire and motivate - which regular readers will know is the leadership skill I recognise as the most significant.

If you want to know more about EQ, check out the work of Daniel Goleman - leading thinker in the field. Alan Chapman's excellent site has useful guidance.

I also recommend that you have a look at your recruitment and appraisal systems.... do you recognise the value of emotional intelligence? Are you asking for potentially spurious qualifications and experience at the expense of talent? Do you spot and develop the talent in your organisation?

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