Leaders – we all have leaders in our lives, even if we are one. And we all want to know how to be one – to excel in leading a high-performing team of rock star workers.

A question I hear a lot is: “what are the most important skills to master in order to become an effective leader?” It’s the topic of countless books, blog posts and, yes, coaching conversations. The popularity of this topic proves that through hard work and learned intelligence, leaders are made and not born.

The idea of intelligence is closely linked to leadership roles. All this begs the question – is the intelligence that benefits leaders also made?

Leaders are experts – they have moved away from the ins and outs of day-to-day work in order to be responsible for bigger-picture, strategic thinking. While not all intelligent people are leaders, good leaders are, by necessity, intelligent. They know the inner workings of their team, and the work that needs to get done.

An essential part of leading a team, however, is managing. When it comes to managing, the idea of intelligence is flipped on its head. We all know intelligent people – however, being “smart” by no means makes someone good with people. Our teams are made up of all different kinds of people – and our monkey brains react to other people differently. Beyond “people skills” like patience and understanding, it takes different kinds of intelligence to thrive as the leader of a team.


Intelligence can be most easily described as an individual’s brain power. It’s what at work when we’re in school, and it’s how we are measured in the formative years of our lives. Leaders need intelligence in their field of specialty in order to run their teams and understand the minute details.

Emotional Intelligence

The term emotional intelligence (or EQ) has spread widely in the last several years, and is commonly known as the ability to identify and manage emotions. EQ is often important for leaders due to its emphasis on empathy and defusing conflict. Leaders with high EQ will thrive to understand the experience of their employees and keep an open and honest dialogue between all levels; closely related to this is the ability to harness their own emotional experiences while leading their terms, as well as acknowledging their team’s experiences.

Social Intelligence

Social intelligence (or Social IQ) explains the capacity to navigate through different social systems, such as relationships and environments. Similar to EQ in that communication is key, Social IQ’s focus on self- and social-awareness goes a step beyond, to focus on looking both inwardly and outwardly to manage change and focusing on being flexible in response. Leaders with high Social IQ understand the qualities their teams need from them (often unconscious behaviours) in order to thrive.

Conversational Intelligence

Conversational intelligence (or S-IQ) has its focus on relationships – mainly building trust and engaging with others. Those in high S-IQ teams feel comfortable sharing their ideas, as they feel comfortable and connected with their colleagues. On the other hand, a team without S-IQ will be reactive, and their creativity will be stunted by anxieties. Leaders with high S-IQ know that building a team community is essential for a positive work environment that will benefit each team member.

Systems Intelligence

Taking its bearings from EQ and Social IQ, Systems intelligence (or RSI for relationship systems intelligence) represents the capacity to relate to the whole. RSI borrows from EQ, in that there is a strong focus on individual relationships and an understanding between colleagues. Those in RSI teams maintain a feeling of independence while working with team mates towards a common goal – a kind of generative group identity. This kind of leadership often forms more cohesive team relationships, which in turn lead to strength in quality of work and resilience in times of high stress.

Positive Intelligence

Positive Intelligence (PQ) based on original research by Shirzad Chamine, is a measure of Mental Fitness, indicating how quickly in challenges you are able to recover and to shift from negative responses to positive ones. It is an excellent predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential. Positive intelligence measures the relative strength of your positive mental muscles (Sage) versus the negative ones (Saboteurs). Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves.

My company, Carol Henry Coaching, works with leaders who are looking to increase their confidence, effectiveness and their intelligence. We use a variety of tools and methods to help both you and your team increase self and other-awareness and further develop your multiple intelligences.

Want more help having great conversations? Carol Henry Coaching wants to take your team to extraordinary! For more information, please visit our website at carolhenrycoaching.com.

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