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Small Business Digest


Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have

Why is it that some businesspeople lead so effortlessly, while others struggle trying to find the right ways to create strategy, solve problems, motivate, and manage?  In Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have (Collins, 2006), Justin Menkes, Ph.D., identifies the specific aptitudes that make leaders great.

Based on nearly a decade of research including interviews with outstanding CEOs, such as Jack Welch and Andrea Jung, Menkes examines the process by which top businesspeople accomplish their work, revealing the actual cognitive skills that comprise such concepts as "business acumen," "sound judgment," and "business smarts."

Diving managerial work into three main categories, Menkes identifies the core aptitudes that successful executives share.  These aptitudes include:

* Accomplishing Tasks: Executives who do this well are able to effectively question underlying assumptions, and anticipate unintended consequences of various tactics.  They appropriate define a problem, and differentiate essential objectives from less relevant concerns.  They also anticipate likely obstacles to achieving objectives and identify sensible means to circumvent them.

* Understanding People: Executives who handle interpersonal situations well are able to recognize underlying agendas: gauge how these agendas may conflict with one another; and anticipate the probable effects and likely unintended consequences of a chosen course of action. They understand how those involved will likely react, and they weigh this information appropriately in their responses.

* Judging Oneself: Recognizing one's own mistakes and minimizing the costs of these missteps is crucial for business and career success.  Those who can do this well seek out and encourage constructive criticism and use it to make appropriate adjustments to their plans of action. When they blunder, they are quick to see their mistakes and change course to correct the problem.

In the book, Menkes takes a look at the ways in which executives and job candidates are assessed through personality tests, IQ tests, and traditional interview practices.  He explains why he believes that none of these methods are capable of measuring Executive Intelligence, and presents a new assessment tool that he believes will fill this critical gap.

Menkes also argues that the aptitudes that make up Executive Intelligence can be practiced and improved.  "Executive Intelligence is not static and finite," he states.  "People can enhance their abilities to perform well at work. But first they need to know what the specific aptitudes are that they should improve. My research gives people a roadmap for sharpening these skills."

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