Archive for January, 2009

Leadership: It’s Time to Review the Role of Executive Intelligence Factors on Effective Leadership

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

The current global economic crisis demands a critical review of how executive potential is identified and what criteria is used to select, assess and evaluate the performance of executives.

In my letter to the editor published on 22 January 2009 in the Business Review Weekly (BRW) I suggested that:


“… While a high level of general intelligence is important, the crucial

issue is the nature of the intelligence. The difference at the chief

executive level is the ability to identify and understand complex and

ambiguous factors, rearrange and reinterpret those factors, and

construct a qualitatively different clear picture of what the future

looks like. This ability is a differentiator between average and

top-performing chief executives. This is the strategic planning

capability that boards need to look for …”


When testing people for executive roles scientifically researched and proven personality questionnaires will often place a heavy weighting on the intelligence factor. This reflects research that shows how both the quantum and nature of intelligence impacts on many of the remaining personality factors measured by these questionnaires. For example, a leader with a reasonable level of intelligence is likely to more easily accommodate feedback about his ineffective leadership style – although this is not always the case!.

Alternatively, a leader who is struggling to cope with the intellectual complexities of the role, and is stressed, may find it more difficult to understand then adopt new ways of influencing people.

Caution – Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

I am not suggesting that organizations abandon the current emphasis on leadership styles and transformation leadership. However I am suggesting that there is currently a gap in the identification, selection, assessment and evaluation of executive performance. That gap is a failure to map intelligence related factors.


It is critical that organizations select, assess and evaluate executive performance holistically rather than simply focusing on leadership style. The context complexity at each organization level of work needs to be mapped. It is then necessary to identify the impact of the complexity of each level work on the psychological resources that executives require to effectively perform at that level. This methodology is also the key to identifying executive potential, particularly within the context of executive succession plans across the organization.

For more information on how to identify executive potential, select, assess and evaluate executive performance call me on 61 2 99573511.


Dallas Burgess

Organization Psychologist

& Executive Director


I spent a good deal of time reading and appreciating the resources shared purchase new information in a recent tech tips newsletter focused on the concept of the flipped classroom