It is a lesson I have learned over and over in nearly 30 years as an executive coach and organizational trainer.
“As goes the leadership team, so goes the entire organization.”
I have seen great organizations destroyed by dysfunctional leadership and mediocre organizations rise to greatness through effective leadership. Although some fundamentals of leadership will never change, such as honesty, integrity, vision, and courage, I believe we are currently undergoing a fundamental shift in what is required to be successful as a leader. From my point of view, there are three key “quotients” in which every leader must excel.
Intelligence Quotient. I am not looking at this as a number, what I am focused on here is competence. To be effective, a leader must be highly competent in two areas, their actual job function and their leadership skills. This means that leaders must constantly be honing their skills, learning more, and pushing themselves to improve.
Unfortunately, far too few people embrace the idea of lifelong learning. For example, the average college graduate reads only 0.5 books per year after they leave University. If you were to read just one skill enhancement book every other month, six books a year, you would be in the top 1% in the United States of America. If you were to read one a month, 12 books a year, you would be in the top 1% in the world for self-learning.
Emotional Quotient. Again, not a number, but your ability to display emotional intelligence (EI). The term emotional intelligence was coined by Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman, who wrote in a Harvard Business Review article:
“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leaders”. Further, he found that 15% of a leader’s success can be attributed to IQ and technical skills, while 85% is based on a leader’s EQ.
Google research found EQ matters more than IQ or technical competence for becoming a successful manager. Research out of Columbia suggests the ROI on working to improve your EQ is far higher than that for working to get smarter. And a Yale study showed those with high EQ make dramatically better decisions.
In my book, Excellence by Design; Leadership, I boil the combination of these first two items down to one key phrase.
I am good at what I do (IQ), and I do it because I care (EQ) about you.
If you demonstrate that you are competent, working hard every day to improve and do it to support and serve your team, you will be a leader that people enthusiastically follow.
But IQ and EQ are not enough. You must also have AQ.
Adaptability Quotient. This may be the most critical quotient moving forward. The ability to discard old ideas, embrace new ideas, adjust your frame of reference, and be agile in dealing with constant change. This will be imperative not only for leaders but for the entire organization.
From an individual standpoint, the best course for improving AQ is exposing yourself to a broad spectrum of information. Innovative thinking comes from combining your knowledge and experience with new ideas you have never seen before. This collision leads to insights that will help you anticipate change and lead more effectively.
To create a highly adaptable organization, a recent McKinsey and Company research study indicated five characteristics of agile organizations.
1. Shared purpose and vision
2. Network of empowered teams
3. Rapid decision and learning cycles
4. Organizational culture that ignites passion
5. Effective implementation of next-generation technologies
Let me see if I can summarize that.
A motivated group of people who work well together, enthusiastically embraces change, and has a strong sense of urgency to grow the organization and themselves.