The final word on what traits make for highly successful managers—and a detailed explanation of how to identify potential standout performers.
Executive Intelligence is about the substance behind great leadership. Inspired by the work of Peter Drucker and Jim Collins, Justin Menkes set out to isolate the qualities that make for the 'right' people. Drawing on his background in psychology and bolstered by interviews with accomplished CEOs, Menkes paints the portrait of the ideal executive.
In a sense, Menkes's work reveals an executive IQ—the cognitive skills necessary in order to excel in senior management positions. Star leaders readily differentiate primary priorities from secondary concerns; they identify flawed assumptions; they anticipate the different needs of various stakeholders and how they might conflict with one another; and they recognise the underlying agendas of individuals in complex exchanges.
Weaving together research, interviews and the results of his own proprietary testing, Menkes exposes one of the great fallacies of corporate life, that hiring and promotion are conducted on a systematic or scientific basis that allows the most accomplished to rise to their levels of optimal responsibility.
Finally, Menkes is a passionate advocate for finding and employing the most talented people, especially those who may have been held back by external assumptions.
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About the Author
Justin Menkes is a managing director of the Executive Intelligence Group (EIG), a leading provider of executive assessment services to global corporations. EIG is an exclusive partner of Spencer Stuart, the world's preeminent executive search firm. Menkes created the Executive Intelligence Evaluation, used by businesses to identify, develop, and hire effective leaders. Menkes is internationally recognized for his expertise in managerial assessment and has written for the Harvard Business Review. He lives in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
Executive IntelligenceWhat All Great Leaders Have
By Justin Menkes
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Justin Menkes
All right reserved.
Part One: Making The Invisible Visible
In today's workplace, an individual cannot become a star executive without possessing a unique type of business "smarts" that we call Executive Intelligence. Historically, business "smarts" has been a bit like the word "indecency." As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said when asked to define the latter, "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."1 Still, we have all caught glimpses of this kind of intelligence, even in everyday situations, as the following example illustrates.
A truck was jammed underneath a highway overpass, and the fire department and a tow-truck driver were attempting to free the vehicle. But despite their earnest efforts, the truck remained stubbornly lodged. A motorist, annoyed by the delay, approached the fire chief and asked what the problem was. "The bridge is not high enough," the chief responded impatiently, "so the truck is wedged, and we're having trouble getting it out."
The gentleman responded, "It seems like the problem is that the truck is not low enough to get through." The fire chief laughed. "Yes, I guess that's another way to say it." The motorist persisted, "What I mean is, why don't you make the truck lower by letting the air out of the tires." Ten minutes later the truck was freed from the tunnel and traffic was moving again.
This kind of logic often appears to observers to be as clever as a magic trick -- a mysterious act with an impressive outcome. But just seeing the result does not get us any closer to understanding how the feat was accomplished. And if you do not know how the trick was performed, you cannot replicate it or teach it to others.
To create a useful understanding of the concept of business "smarts," we need to pull back the curtain and show how the magic trick is done. What's more, we need a consistent and reliable way to recognize and measure this kind of intelligence if we are to develop it in ourselves and also ensure that decision-making responsibilities are assigned to those best qualified to handle them.
So how do we define Executive Intelligence? In its simplest form, it is a distinct set of aptitudes that an individual must be able to demonstrate in three central contexts of work: the accomplishment of tasks, working with and through other people, and judging oneself and adapting one's behavior accordingly.
On the job, executives are constantly pursuing a variety of goals. They must decide which tasks to accomplish, in what order to do them, and how best to carry them out. They must find ways to meet their goals through the efforts of and cooperation with other people. And always they must actively evaluate themselves, identify their own errors, and make adjustments to correct them.
The more proficient an individual is in all three of these areas, the higher his or her level of Executive Intelligence. Obviously, Executive Intelligence does not consist of a single ability or isolated skill. Rather, it is a blend of critical aptitudes that guide an individual's decision-making process and behavioral path.
Executive Intelligence has its roots in what is commonly known as critical thinking, but it is not the same as the abstract-logic and reasoning skills often associated with that subject. Instead, it is an expanded and applied type of critical thinking; specifically it is how an individual skillfully uses the available information as a guide to thought and action.
This type of intelligence permeates every aspect of managerial work. A close analysis reveals a set of consistent, interrelated skills that form the very foundation of smart executive behavior. In a sense, the theory of Executive Intelligence pulls back the curtain and reveals the magic behind exceptional leadership performance.
We will go into greater detail about the components of the three areas of Executive Intelligence -- tasks, other people, and oneself -- later in the book. But the following examples will give you an idea of the essential role Executive Intelligence plays in business.
Excerpted from Executive Intelligence by Justin Menkes Copyright © 2005 by Justin Menkes. Excerpted by permission.
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What People are Saying About This
“Executive Intelligence offers real insights into what differentiates the great leaders from the pack.”
“Justin Menkes has provided a useful guide for helping to identify the people you want to bet your company on.”
“Executive Intelligence” is a breakthrough.”
Menkes does a great job of dissecting executive intelligence the ability to analyze and solve problems in a business environment.”
“This will transform the way companies hire, promote and evaluate senior-level employees. It is nothing less than a revolution.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For all the press this book got, I think it's pretty poor. It is predominantly a reiteration of common-knowledge based on the work of others. Where it doesn't reiterate the work of others, it merely quotes CEOs of various companies. I'll give it credit for a lot of great case studies, but it does not have a lot of content that is transferable. The take-away I got from the book is that "If you're smart, you'll be a good executive" - and then the definition of smart is debated for 40% of the book.