Intelligent Leadership: A Journey of Discovery

For me it all began in the late 70s when I had the opportunity to study ‘stress’ among UK police managers. My eyes began to open as it became clear to me that intelligent coping was a combination of using our accumulated capacities.

However, an Australasian Phd later in Senior Manager Leadership Survival is probably where I became hooked (and some may say obsessed) on questionnaire survey methodology. My beleaguered senior managers sample each had 15 questionnaires to complete. I was continuing the search for that silver bullet – what makes the difference between the effective (Intelligent) and not so effective leader.

Certainly the raw material (what we all have, for example our various intelligences) was critical but self-understanding and self-mastery were probably the two most important takeaway concepts from that research which impact on this topic of the Intelligent leader.

I quote the key findings on intelligent coping practices from the study: self-belief; self-understanding; self-mastery; appreciating the link between emotions and behaviour; stress management, and; matching capacities with commitments. These were the important competencies at play which later informed my wider (than stress) interest in leadership in general, and intelligent leadership in particular. What I have found that works for business and corporate leaders is to see Leadership Intelligence split into three areas as follows:

Emotional Intelligence


The self-accomplished leader is capable of integrating both ‘Self-Insight’ and ‘Self-Mastery’. They have clear goals and aspirations, understand how their emotions drive their behaviour, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. They are able to harness their learning energy and resiliently manage stress. Their Team Management Profile (TMP or similar) is a significant start to this self-accomplishment journey through their ‘preference’ eyes. The 360 profile adds to this by providing feedback on their observed behaviour.

Social Intelligence


The socially accomplished leader ideally needs to be competent in both Social-Insight and Social-Mastery.

Having effective Social Insight requires a macro appreciation of the organisation and its context, culture and its clients, a service orientation and interpersonal ‘savvy’. This alone, however, is not enough and needs to be complemented by an ability to operate effectively within this organisational context by utilising personal impact, relationship and team management skills. Using Dick McCann’s Workplace Pyramid Profiles (Values, Risk orientation and Preferences) to enhance this understanding and develop an ‘outstanding’ team is critical to social accomplishment. In addition the 360 profile provides feedback on how effective the leader has been in this area.

Strategic Intelligence


The strategically accomplished leader has that ability to read the currents of their economic, political, industry and market environment. They don’t just understand it they interpret it for today and the future. They then use this insight to develop the appropriate strategic response and are masters at delivery.

Part of this strategic-mastery is an ability to take stakeholders along with their plans. However, it is their prowess in logic; systems thinking and spacial intelligence that also particularly commends them. So they are both creative and street smart in a practical way. In TMP terms this would be the ‘practico creator’ who has developed an ability to work at both a conceptual and practical level to achieve strategic outcomes.

Two 360 Degree Profiles

Emotional and Social Intelligence Profile (ESI)

So the first two of our intelligences, the Emotional and Social Intelligences has led to a 360 leadership profile which works extremely well in either a workshop setting or at the coaching level.

An individual is introduced first to the idea of preference and style tendency using for example the TMP. This awareness is then moved to an appreciation from 360 feedback of how to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their social environment (Insight) and to use such knowledge to become accomplished (masters) of themselves and their social relationships.

The Strategic Intelligence Assessment (SIA)

This second 360 also works well with the TMP. Whereas the ESI is more focused on the ‘people’ side of the leadership equation, the SIA is more concerned with the ‘task’ side of the leadership job, albeit at a strategic level.

Whilst the ideal is to be both ‘people’ and ‘task’ oriented we all know that many managers often have strengths in one or the other. So the intelligent strategist:

  • Keeps pace with and understands their operating environment (internal and external) e.g. Focuses strategically on the present
  • Has a desire to create the future for their organisation e.g. Focuses strategically on future direction
  • Puts this knowledge and desire together to envisage successful outcomes e.g. Intuitively integrates complexity
  • Gets on and ensures these outcomes are delivered e.g. Ensures completion and delivers results
  • Along the way enlists and takes stakeholders along for a great ride e.g. inspires stakeholders with a positive and sustainable future direction

For more information about these profiles go to

Author’s Profile

Dr. Paul Robinson

Paul has assisted senior managers for many years with their leadership, strategic planning, change management and team development needs. He also specialises in developing multi-rater feedback tools for organisations, and generic leadership 360 tools for leadership training, coaching and mentoring programmes in NZ and worldwide.