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Leadership Traits Are a Quotient

I read an interesting article by Margot Cairnes, a leadership consultant.

Ms. Cairnes suggests that there are at least three measurements that provide assessment for potential leadership. These include Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient, (EQ) and Spiritual Quotient (SQ).

I was fascinated by this premise as I have found it difficult to identify any particular academic track or particular personality style that translates into effective leadership. There are simply, far too many examples of leaders that broke the mold or that reacted to a crisis and provided critical, yet unpredictable leadership.

The following capture a combination of traits and characteristics that seem germane to leadership.

IQ – Intelligence Quotient measures relative cognitive ability and intelligence. We all know this one.  We tend to associate high IQ with superior intellect and academic performance.

EQ – Emotional Quotient measures self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills. These qualities are often exhibited in a leader’s character and judgment. Leaders that possess high EQ are motivated, self-disciplined and aspire to excellence. These leaders are curious and value learning. They create strong organizational cultures where people enjoy contributing and where collaboration and team work are rewarded.

SQ – Spiritual Quotient is the capacity to question, think creatively, change the rules and work effectively in a dynamic world of change. Leaders that measure a high SQ are not afraid to play with the boundaries, break through obstacles and be innovative.

It is IQ that helps us think while EQ allows us to relate to others. In a static world these may be sufficient. But the world is not static. Change is the one thing all leaders can count on. It is SQ that gives us the strength to be smart and exercise proper judgment during times of rapid change, chaos and crisis. The test of leadership is to calmly find productive solutions in times of crisis and adversity.

These measurements may be helpful for you to evaluate and develop your own leadership or provide tools to help you evaluate and develop leaders in your organization. Your best leadership comes from balance and an ability to relate and adapt to a number of personality traits, styles and situations. Cairnes supports this hypothesis, “Outstanding performers have high IQ, high EQ and high SQ.  This makes them alive, dynamic, sociable and innovative.” She suggests that such leaders are rarely found in large and traditional organizations where conformity, tradition and status quo are rewarded.

I was once given a small yet valuable book on leadership by Max Depree called Leadership is an Art. Depree nicely sums the importance of combining IQ, EQ and SQ.

“Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice.”

1 Comments/Trackbacks


"The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice."

I appreciate your sharing this post, Hal. Developing leadership ultimately does come down to what you do, doesn't it.


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