Leadership. The very word depicts numerous ideas, beliefs and definitions, in extremely different ways, for individuals all over the planet. Is it possible that one basic definition can exist to categorize the word or the behavior of leading? How many perceptions of a term can exist? Considering the sheer enormity of nothing more than the word itself, how can one possibly comprehend the skills or behaviors of leadership?
For as long as the planet has been thriving with humans, the behavior of leading has existed. Numerous accounts of leadership exist in history and in many cases, provide less clarity and understanding of the concept than one would think. With all the examples of leaders and leadership in the planet’s history, one would hope that a consistent behavior, or list of behaviors, would have emerged. Why are the behaviors of leadership such a huge area of debate? Why does leadership have so many iterations of itself and yet cannot seem to land on a style one can abide by? Why are there hundreds of thousands of examples of ineffective leadership, versus a much smaller number of examples on being effective? What has the fascination with the concept accomplished over the last one hundred plus years?
One can argue that the current state of leading or what it means to be a leader is wildly out of control. Each day, new ideas are formulated of good and bad examples of leaders and their leadership style. Various businesses are laser focused on every move of leaders to reveal weaknesses and then act on those revelations to fix the behaviors. Multiple individuals are floundering in leadership positions in just about every organization and discipline imaginable. College graduates are walking into leadership positions and one can only ask if the graduates are ready to showcase the behaviors of great leadership.
While these examples represent only a small portion of the issues surrounding leadership in the world today, one cannot help but wonder if any steps are being taken to successfully remedy the lack of leadership being displayed overall.
What measures are currently being utilized by organizations and corporations to try at resolving the issues of leadership? Examples may include college and professional development classes; seminars; books written, sold, and read; stories depicted and exploited to help substandard leaders become abundantly more successful at leading. People believe that by going to these classes or by reading literature, they will enhance their skills and talents to become more effective as a leader. Perhaps, this is further from the truth than anyone is aware of.
Perhaps the real issue of leadership has much more to do with one’s intelligence level of leading more so than the need to create classes, seminars, books, or consulting sessions. One could argue that there is a vicious cycle going on which reflects the current state of the deficiencies of leadership; that cycle resembles:
a) get hired into a leadership position
b) realize it is harder than it looks
c) make mistakes and earn a negative image
d) receive feedback from upper leadership about the inappropriate behaviors and bad decisions
e) attending seminars/training and read books on becoming a more effective leader
f) return to work hopeful of change only to realize change is difficult, and
g) repeat all the steps again as one moves from one company to the next.
It seems that this is becoming an accepted behavior for many individuals and organizations; it is the perception of how people are viewing the ‘right ways’ to become better at leading or being a leader. Perhaps a deeper look at the real problems with not only identifying great leaders but also identifying poor leaders, is needed to help make sense and pave the way for leadership intelligence.
What if, for all this time, people have been looking at leadership from the wrong perspective? What if there is no such thing as a good or bad leader based on the current definition(s)? How does one know if the accuracy of skill and ability evaluation is accurate? As one considers these questions, perhaps there is room for a new theory or principle. A concept that from its very inception may in fact hold the key to a new premise of how leadership is defined and how to locate the leadership talents of individuals.
To premise this, one should consider that for over fifty years, psychologists have been testing people in several ways. Intelligence quotients (I.Q.) have been conceptualized and implemented to determine one’s level of intelligence. The creation, redesign, and utilization of personality inventories help gain perspective on actions and behaviors that define the individual.
Recently, emotional intelligence (E.Q.) has moved into the contemporary arena where individuals and businesses test a person’s emotions and their ability to maintain awareness of the impact of their emotions on others. There are even hundreds of thousands of online and social networking variations of these types of tests to help determine everything from I.Q., E.Q., careers to preferred soft drinks. While each of these are successful in their own way, perhaps a new assessment can be birthed to better identify a person’s leadership intelligence quotient; and with far more accuracy than sorting one into a soft drink group.
For too long the ability to lead resides with upper management. For as long as big business has flourished and human resources has made their mark on corporate America, labels of good and bad reflect people within leadership roles leading to promotion and skill development or demotion and eventual separation from the company.
The premise that a successful interview about past performance is a good indicator of successful leadership skills presents a conundrum that could lead to either praised or chastisement based on action, behaviors, and results. Which begs the question, how did the hiring professional know what the future leadership skill(s) would look like? When a specialist (i.e. an engineer or a nurse) is doing a superior job within their organization and is then promoted to a leadership position, what proof is there that they will do an amazing job leading?
A plausible solution to this is a new theory and principal called leadership intelligence. This theory builds on the variations of I.Q. testing or Personality Inventories. The premise is that the theory aligns these tests to individual leadership behaviors to create the leadership intelligence quotient (L.I.Q.). L.I.Q. is explained as the innate ability to showcase all the elements of a leader in any situation. These include behaviors such as being motivating, influencing, inspiring, charismatic, a visionary, using power appropriately, putting people first, directing, implementing, planning and organizing, responsibility, integrity, and trust. L.I.Q. identifies these leadership traits and scores them to provide insight into areas for improvement to success. This provides a foundation to build from as it offers other avenues (outside of leadership) to consider for self-improvement.
Everyone is where they are based on life experiences, perceptions, and associations. In each person, one will find an individual that inspired and compelled the desire to be more than the present of current situation. While remembering the leader that inspired, one cannot forget the leader that generated doubt and questions as their ability created strife. This leads to the idea that people quit managers, not companies. It's a quandary that calls to question why there are exceptional leaders and horrible leaders then the same literature and seminars are out there for everyone to read and attend. Human resources and upper leaders offer suggestions and feedback to hundreds of individuals in leadership roles all over the world; how is it that some understand the feedback and grow while many others disregard the information and fail miserably?
Leadership intelligence attempts to explain this odd occurrence. Leading has very little to do with sending someone to a leadership development class or by making them read a book by an expert on leadership. Instead, L.I.Q. suggests that it comes down to a person’s intelligence level of leadership. L.I.Q. is a possible solution by assessing an individual through a series of questions and then producing a score that guides their leadership journey. It gives people and organizations an opportunity to place individuals in the very best possible roles while avoiding those leadership pitfalls that happen on a reoccurring basis throughout the world.