What is smart leadership?

by Ron on June 6, 2012

Smart Leadership is not in our heads!

Most people think that smart leaders are the answer people.  They have the answers, the knowledge about the important things.  Leadership is equated with IQ (intelligence quotient).  Big problem:  I’ve know a good number of smart people who were not leaders.  I’ve also know some good leaders who were not the brightest or most endowed with intellectual gifts.

Intelligence is just one aspect of smart leadership, and not the major one at that.

Lately, people have talked about hard versus soft leadership.  The basic idea is a contrast between force and coercion (hard) and influence and persuasion (soft).  The implication is that hard leadership may not always be possible, and because it is resented so much it will always be thrown off when there is a viable alternative.  This takes us back to Machiavelli and his contrast between a leader who is feared (hard leadership) and one who is loved (soft leadership).

So this brings up the importance of emotional intelligence and its role in leadership.  Emotional intelligence is a complex topic, but for simplicity we can consider two big areas:  self awareness and self control as one form of emotional intelligence (EI) and social skills, motivation and interpersonal awareness and empathy as another form of EI.

Smart leadership seeks to grow our cognitive intelligence (traditional IQ) by expanding our vocabulary and language skills, our subject matter expertise and mastery of other areas that are amenable to study and traditional learning.

It also pays attention to growing emotional intelligence (EQ) through self awareness, self direction, motivation and also through developing interpersonal skills and social radar.

In fact, I’ve identified several other large areas of intelligence beyond these two where smart leadership can be exercised and developed.  Stay tuned for more on this idea as I develop it further.

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