Book Review: Executive Intelligence — What All Great Leaders Have

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Executive Intelligence — What all Great Leaders Have, by Justin Menkes, suggests that success in management is driven by executive intelligence, the intellectual ability to actually do the job. Yet, hiring managers — or boards of directors — “are enamored with attributes, such as personality and style, that are only tangentially related to how well executives actually do their job.”

Justin then divides the book into logical sections;

  1. What is Executive Intelligence — An Overview. Here he provides examples of real life CEO’s and examples of what executive intelligence looks like, including discussions of critical thinking and finding executive intelligence in the workplace.
  2. Why is Executive Intelligence is so Rare? This section describes how much of our executive population works and why it is detrimental to good decision making, how the brain works to make decisions and how it contributes to poor ones in business, and common errors of business judgment.
  3. Intelligence is the Key. Intelligence is broken down into different flavors and then related to business. Included are some wrong turns people make about intelligence (it is not, for example, charisma), the difference between knowledge and intelligence, how job interviews have evolved, and others.
  4. How Do You Measure Executive Intelligence? This section provides a theory for measuring executive intelligence and some brief notes on how to teach and develop executive intelligence.

The Good

The book is a fascinating examination of intelligence and the role of intelligence for success in business. Most of us are aware when a manager “gets it” or doesn’t and the significant consequences of that knowing. Justin takes this to the executive level and provides concrete examples of executive intelligence — or lack of it — in action.

The objective here is to try and define how to predict success in a business environment. I was hoping for a formula — aren’t we all? — but there isn’t one. Instead, clear discussions around the pluses and minuses of the work on intelligence and how they relate to business are presented.

The Bad

The book is necessarily written in a more academic style, though there are plenty of examples thrown in that show it isn’t an academic book. But the book almost requires an interest in what research says about intelligence and how they said it, so the writing could turn some readers off if they are not used to this research orientation.

I was also hoping, if not for a formula, at least some better indicators of whether a leader has executive intelligence or not. Cubicle Warriors need to know if their employer is running the shop right or not and some indicators would have been useful.

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Cube Rules Rating

This is not a step-by-step, practical analysis that would allow one to look at the actions of a leader or manager and determine if there was a good critical thinking ability there. The book is good theory, well written, and offers us a new view of what constitutes successful leadership.

Rating: 3 of 5 cubes

  • Scot Herrick says:

    “We need both character and intelligence.” Amen.

  • Position authority no longer holds the clout it had in the past. New generations of employees respect ability more than authority. They also want someone that is authentic and can be trusted. Perhaps this is not an either/or debate. We need both character and intelligence.

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