Leadership Smarts

Your computer would like you to be more like it. Don’t do it.

You are not a computer. Don’t try to operate like one.  The intelligence that fosters leadership is very, very different from the “intelligence” of your computer.

What constitutes leadership intelligence?

  1. A well-rounded intellect. Reading To Kill a Mockingbird or Moby Dick might help you lead as much as repeated readings of Good to Great. Don’t be a “business savant;” the type of intelligence required to understand spreadsheets and design processes is fed and supported by a broader awareness of the world.
  2. Studying human nature. When you go to the ball game, are you more interested in the players’ statistics than in the amazing panorama of human behavior in the stands?  Great leaders are fascinated with what makes humans tick.
  3. Awareness of political and social issues. What’s going on in the world around you affects your business.  If that doesn’t make sense to you, you’re not thinking strategically.  One example:  as fossil fuels get harder — and more expensive — to extract from the ground and the oceans, have you considered the impact on your business 10 years down the road?
  4. Spirituality. Whatever form this takes, I believe a leader has to have a spiritual life. It grounds you, challenges you to consider your values in every decision, gives you time for reflection and contemplation, and opens you to depth in your relationships. Whether you commune with the gods or the sparrows, remember that you are a whole human being and your organization will benefit if you are bringing a bigger “you” into the workplace.
  5. Physical intelligence. Understanding what your body needs and meeting those needs is a form of leadership intelligence. It improves not just your physical, but also your intellectual, emotional, and relational “posture” in countless ways.

YOUR PATH FORWARD: To what extent do you spend focused time, every week, developing each of the five kinds of intelligence above?  On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on each.  (1 is “no time at all”; 10 is “the ideal amount of time for becoming steeped in this kind of intelligence.”)  Then take your two lowest scores and create a plan for engaging in activities that develop those two capacities.

You are not a computer. Don’t just plug yourself in, power up, and spend your day processing. Be a human being. Be a leader.

About the Author

Jim Hessler
Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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