Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have

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9780060781873: Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have

The final word on what traits make for highly successful managers—and a detailed explanation of how to identify potential standout performers.

Executive Intelligence is about the substance behind great leadership. Inspired by the work of Peter Drucker and Jim Collins, Justin Menkes set out to isolate the qualities that make for the 'right' people. Drawing on his background in psychology and bolstered by interviews with accomplished CEOs, Menkes paints the portrait of the ideal executive.

In a sense, Menkes's work reveals an executive IQ—the cognitive skills necessary in order to excel in senior management positions. Star leaders readily differentiate primary priorities from secondary concerns; they identify flawed assumptions; they anticipate the different needs of various stakeholders and how they might conflict with one another; and they recognise the underlying agendas of individuals in complex exchanges.

Weaving together research, interviews and the results of his own proprietary testing, Menkes exposes one of the great fallacies of corporate life, that hiring and promotion are conducted on a systematic or scientific basis that allows the most accomplished to rise to their levels of optimal responsibility.

Finally, Menkes is a passionate advocate for finding and employing the most talented people, especially those who may have been held back by external assumptions.

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Review:

The basic premise of Justin Menkes's book is simple: just as math problems require a certain kind of quantitative intelligence, or relationships require the delicacy of emotional intelligence, strong business leadership rests on executive intelligence. Menkes has worked as an organizational consultant for an impressive roster of blue-chip companies--the CEOs of Gillette, Amgen, and Tyco offer their praise on the back cover of Executive Intelligence--and his experience shows in this thought-provoking volume. Clearly patterned after Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, the seminal book that explained a theory of multiple intelligences which might leave a person highly expert in one area but surprisingly deficient in others, Executive Intelligence provides a helpful analysis of the cognitive abilities which define strong leaders.

Menkes starts his book by breaking down the different components of executive intelligence. He argues that conventional behavioral frameworks which try to prescribe rote behaviors fail for leadership coaching, due to the need for customized solutions based on the specific circumstances of each business and leader. Instead, the best executives benefit from critical thinking, which helps them gather, process, and apply information to reach goals and navigate complex situations.

Three key areas of this executive intelligence receive significant attention through the book's 17 chapters. The first centers on tasks, and executives' ability to identify problems, devise solutions, and exercise good judgment in pursuing those solutions. The second area of intelligence is social, and revolves around executives' management of relationships with others. Intriguingly, Menkes does not view the social component of executive intelligence as "charisma", or a "good personality", per se; more important than those qualities, he argues, is the ability to see others' viewpoints, to be able to balance among competing views, and to communicate effectively. The third area of executive intelligence is more inwardly focused on leaders themselves, on their abilities to learn from their mistakes, and to adjust behavior to avoid repeating them. In each of these sections, readers will find a mix of real-world examples from the experiences of Fortune 500 leaders like Gillette's Jim Kilts or AOL's Jon Miller, and more theoretical arguments grounded in review of other management books and business-review articles.

The potential audience for Executive Intelligence is large: it includes executives and aspiring executives, of course, but also those who must coach or evaluate leaders, and scholars focused on leadership development. As an addition to the literature on leadership development, following classics like On Becoming a Leader and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, this book will find its way onto many managers' shelves. --Peter Han

About the Author:

Justin Menkes is a managing director of the Executive Intelligence Group (EIG), a leading provider of executive assessment services to global corporations. EIG is an exclusive partner of Spencer Stuart, the world's preeminent executive search firm. Menkes created the Executive Intelligence Evaluation, used by businesses to identify, develop, and hire effective leaders. Menkes is internationally recognized for his expertise in managerial assessment and has written for the Harvard Business Review. He lives in Los Angeles.

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