How To Harness The Power Of Leadership Intelligence

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Leaders must develop skills in planning, vision casting and in execution. But leadership that transforms also pays very close attention to the far more subtle indicators.

It’s true that leaders should be able to:

  • Design an effective strategy,
  • Set compelling goals,
  • Execute a plan.

But effective leadership also involves paying attention to subtle indicators, such as:

  • Being able to ‘read a room’,
  • Discerning the emotional temperature of the team,
  • Noticing which ways the winds of momentum are blowing.

These are the skills of Leadership Intelligence. Like Emotional Intelligence, or Relational Intelligence, Leadership Intelligence is a nuanced level of discernment that enables a leader to

  • Get the most out of each member of the team,
  • Create a healthy, sustainable culture,
  • Build a team who can thrive over the long-haul.

What does Leadership Intelligence look like?

1. It can recognize sagging shoulders, and will step in to offer encouragement

This does not mean becoming the personal counselor for the team. It means paying enough attention to their emotional well-being that you can tell when someone is carrying a burden. And it means talking it through if necessary.

2. It can tell when a team just needs a change

A team I once inherited had just stalled. They were producing good results, but the atmosphere had grown stale. Immediately we began to introduce changes to some core functions of the team, and morale soared.

3. It can spot needless irritations, and weed them out

Sometimes the removal of minor irritant can make a huge difference. A team I once led began to grumble that they had to take two flights of stairs to get to the coffee machine. Amazing what buying a $29 coffee machine could do to lift spirits.

4. It can listen to what is not being said, as well as what is being said

“Everything good in your department?”

“Yup, all good.”

Leadership intelligence can read body language and tone of voice to discern if there’s something deeper going on.

  • “We don’t have enough resources for the job.”
  • “We need more manpower.”
  • “The timeline is unreasonable.”

Maybe they won’t say it. But leadership intelligence can often hear it nonetheless.

So learn to pay attention to those vibes that don’t show up in a formal report.

They could be telling you more than any spreadsheet you’ll ever read.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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