Tag Archives: leadership intelligences

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Skip rope to outperform the competition!The article “How to Outperform the Competition” explains the logic behind this metaphor. Read about it at the “Downloads” section of our website.

Innovation is important for enduring corporate excellence. But how do you enable innovation in an organization? Read the article “How to Enable Innovation in Organizations” to understand about the four enablers to innovation within organizations – People, Principle, Processes and Technologies.
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Understanding a Story – The Vivékin Way

Almost all the houses in the community I live in have solar water heaters installed on their terraces. For most of these house owners, while the logic behind doing this has more to do with considerable savings on the monthly electricity bill than any green initiative, they still are managing to do their little bit towards energy conservation. Then again, all these houses have inbuilt reverse osmosis water purification systems under their kitchen sinks. Convenient and safe, yes. But I wonder how many of them have taken into consideration the fact that for every glass of clean water produced, another glass gets wasted; that it is possible to channel this water to the garden for watering plants. And if anyone has actually done that. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? In one shot, the good that was done has come undone. But, I digress. What I actually wanted to write about was an article I read last week – about this gentleman in Bangalore who has gone way beyond just installing a solar heater. He installed a whole set of solar panels on his terrace, bought himself a few hybrid inverters and now manages almost all of his household energy needs (with the exception of one submersible pressure pump) with the supply from these solar panels. And if that were not enough, he supplies the surplus energy, around 8-10 units, back to the Electricity Board. Free of charge. Now, if only more people in our country could be like him! Even if some of us were able to take care of half our energy needs, the load on our energy reservoirs could be decreased and so much electricity would be freed up to electrify villages and towns in rural parts of India.

In Vivékin terms, what is the significance of this story? Here is someone who has done something rather innovative – but what is the dominant Leadership Intelligence here? Because he is being innovative, does it imply that it is Inventive Intelligence? Surprisingly though, it is not. To understand why, we first need to break this story down a little more. He used Analytical Intelligence when he studied the different kind of panels and inverters available and decided which combination to use, Operational Intelligence while setting up the whole system (even if he didn’t do it himself, he drove the process) and some amount of Communicative Intelligence while dealing with the equipment dealers and engineers/ technicians who set up the system. But not really Inventive Intelligence, as he didn’t apply knowledge from another domain for this innovation. He simply extended what he already knew – the ability to channel solar energy using solar panels to power something other than just a solar heater.

But where does he use Ethical Intelligence? To understand this, let us take a step back and try to understand why it is that he even chose to embark on such a project. Was it to save on his electricity bills? To start and follow a green initiative in order to conserve energy? To free up energy for others to use? To set a precedent in his community in the hope that it would inspire others to follow in his steps? It could have been one or the other, or all. The point is that he explored a possibility, weighed his options, looked at the long-term implications and then made a decision. Without a doubt, this is a perfect example of a dominant Ethical Intelligence.

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How Leadership Begins in the Family

Often, leadership development seems to begin and end in the corporate environment. How do we take the lessons learned during corporate training to environments beyond the company, and on the other hand how do we bring leadership lessons from the outside world into the company? Excellent leadership training will actually make the environments inside and outside the work-place seamless. The focus of good leadership development should be to make leadership an everyday habit.In this context, the key thing to recognize is that our families are both sources of leadership lessons, and also sites in which to practice leadership. For a child, a parent is a role model and leadership qualities displayed by the parent become lessons for the child. Remember Harper Lee’s characterization of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mocking Bird?

As parents we are leaders to our children, and the family becomes a laboratory in which we try to teach leadership and learn from the feedback. Listen to this 5-minute extract from Sidney Poitier’s speech at Guilford College, NC in 2003. It is a superb illustration of how our leadership abilities develop within the family and why we need to show leadership qualities in the family. The scene begins with Poitier as a 15-year old kid having been arrested for stealing and roasting corn in a cornfield. Listen:

[audio:http://vivekingroup.com/audio/SidneyPoitier_Leadership.mp3|bg=0x0000ff|righticon=0xff0000] Sidney Poitier on Leadership Lessons in the Family
The full speech can be found here

Leadership requires a child-like questioning ability

We often forget to ask fundamental questions, especially, “Why?” and “Why not?” Children have that ability to ask the most searching, “Why?” and “Why not?” questions, and all without an element of prejudice. We seem to lose it as we grow up–society (which includes ourselves) teaches us to stop asking such questions. Instead, we make assumptions, we develop stereotypes, and when it comes to using our analytical leadership intelligence, since we think we already know, we neglect to ask the fundamental questions.Here’s an exercise:I was reading a book with my six-year old daughter. The book’s called Fire on Toytown Hill and is written by Jenny Giles. A fire truck finds it cannot put out the fire on a hillside and radios a helicopter for assistance. The helicopter arrives and puts out the fire with a barrel of water.Here are two pictures from that book–the first one shows the helicopter arriving and the second one shows it pouring the water. Before I tell you the question my daughter asked, I’d like you to look at the two pictures and think of some fundamental “Why?” or “How? questions.

Toytown Hill on Fire
Toytown Hill fire being put out Continue reading

Great Leaders Have Great Causes: What is Yours?

A cause is the raison d’etre of leadership–it answers the question, “Why do we need a leader, why this leader?”Great leaders are associated with particular causes on which they focus fully. The resolution of that cause becomes an all-consuming goal for them and their followers. The more humanistic the cause, the broader its appeal. In a way, the cause itself ultimately defines the leader.George Washington and the other founding fathers of America made their cause the liberation of America from the colonial grip of Britain.Abraham Lincoln, after a frustrating first year in office, found a twofold-cause: the abolition of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation, and the simultaneous cause of holding the Union together through the Civil War.Mahatma Gandhi made it his cause to liberate India from the ravages of English colonialism through non-violent means.Nelson Mandela’s cause was getting rid of apartheid.Martin Luther King’s struggle was against racism and the Jim Crow South.This brings us to the question: What is Barack Obama’s cause? The sooner he finds it and declares it, the better it is for him and for all of us.But the most important question is one that each of us has to ask of ourselves: What is my cause?

Visual and Verbal Branding of Leadership: Gandhi&Martin Luther King

Leaders–whether unconsciously or self-consciously–become associated with brands. In fact, it is more right to say, they become brands themselves. Watch the video below of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech. Notice the headgear of all the people around MLK. They’re called “Gandhi caps” after Mahatma Gandhi, who started to wear the cloth cap–a traditional headgear in rural India–to express a political view. The Gandhi cap became symbolic of non-violent resistance all over the world. Gandhi embraced visual branding strongly–through his loin cloth, his round eye glasses, and of course, his long walking stick. After all, he went to meet the King and Queen of England dressed in the same fashion.To quote from the Nov 16, 1931 issue of Time:

The same frayed sandals that carried St. Gandhi on his illegal salt march through India 19 months ago carried him last week up the crimson-carpeted stair of Buckingham Palace. Flunkies in scarlet & gold bowed the small, unrepentant lawbreaker into the Picture Gallery. There at the head of the receiving line stood George V in striped trousers and morning coat, Queen Mary in a shimmering silver tea gown and Edward of Wales (who had flown down especially from Liverpool) dressed like his father. The Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Cromer, advanced through a horde of 500 tea guests, some of them Maharajas wearing pearls as big as butterballs.

MLK, on the other hand, developed his brand through rhetoric–like the “I have a dream” speech below.

MLK\’s I Have a Dream Speech

What Matters Now: Leadership Intelligences

Seth Godin brought out a free e-book titled, What Matters Now (download it here). It’s a fascinating collection from many thought leaders. Each writer elaborates in one page on a theme s/he has chosen. It is a must read.I am sure that Seth–in his usual generous style–intended this book to be a thought-provoker. In that spirit, I asked myself–what do I think would particularly matter now? Not just in a corporate environment or an organizational setting, but more so, in our everyday lives. I read Seth’s book, and found that a particularly human quality-that quality which marks us as quintessentially human–was not on any page. This quality–the hallmark of us homo sapiens, the “thinking” race– which I think matters very much now is “Intelligence“.Intelligence, not as IQ, and not even as Emotional Intelligence. But intelligence as something that drives leadership–to be more precise intelligence, in its five-fold form, as the five leadership intelligences. Intelligence–or intelligences–however, does not figure as a topic in What Matters Now. In fact, it does not figure even as a word.My work with underprivileged schoolchildren in India, the partisan debate in the US over the important issue of health care, but most immediately, the gang-rape of a schoolgirl in California–in which dozens of witnesses looked on, or simply walked away without doing anything–and the speedy response of a passenger yesterday who thwarted a terrorist’s attempt to blow up a Delta Airlines flight, have all convinced me that intelligences–leadership intelligences–matter tremendously now.So, in the spirit of adding to the knowledge in the book, I made a page titled “Intelligences”. You can download it here and forward it to friends.I’d love to hear your comments and additions.

President Obama: Speech on intelligence failures

Barack Obama is always fascinating when it comes to leadership intelligences. Yesterday’s speech, was a succinct demonstration of communicative leadership intelligence.Watch:


In an appropriately stern voice, Obama declared, “… our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list. In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.” He went on to say, that this situation was “not acceptable.”
In its editorial wisdom, the Washington Post says, “What was missing from yesterday’s assessment, and what Mr. Obama promised would be quickly forthcoming, was a treatment plan.”
In my opinion, Obama’s speech would have failed if it had laid out a “treatment plan.” Given that the purpose of the speech was to use communicative intelligence to solve a problem–”Obama’s administration goofed up in anti-terrorism efforts”–it had to demonstrate candor and the President’ authority to call relevant parts of his administration to task. And that it definitely did.
A spelling out of policy would have led to this becoming an exercise in analysis and full of operational details. A speech of the kind the Washington Post call for, would have at this point achieved far less than the speech Obama gave.
What do you think? Did Obama succeed in being a leader in this speech?

Wilbur Ross: NPR Interview

NPR interviewed investor Wilbur Ross this morning. During the interesting interview, Ross revealed that he had tried to be a creative writer in his student days. What had he found useful from his creative writing training, however short-lived that was, to his work today as he takes over and revived failed companies? His answer–not ideation or any such creative thing–but “analytical skills” (!) When you have 1000 words to write a piece in, he said, you have to “organize your thought processes, organize your questions, and think through what your observations were.” He went on to say how these abilities are useful in any kind of activity that calls for analytical abilities, and especially in his work in the private equity space.