The Role of Executive Intelligence in Managerial Success

Book: Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have
Author: Justin Menkes, PhD

Few subjects have been as extensively examined and written about as executive management. Everyone from athletic coaches to ABC’s “The Apprentice” winners has offered sage advice about turning average managers into Jack Welch. Not surprisingly, Jack Welch has even written best-selling books on managing like Jack Welch. The newest expert to jump into the management battle royal is Justin Menkes, PhD. In his just-released book, Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have, Menkes attempts to codify “business smarts” and pinpoint specific skills that make some business people stars.

Menkes is a renowned expert on executive intelligence and has consulted global businesses throughout the world to help them identify, hire, and promote exceptional leaders and managers. In his book, Menkes differentiates his management philosophy from the preachings of other management gurus by clearly laying out a set of aptitudes (which he defines as executive intelligence) that determine whether managers will succeed. These include recognizing others’ agendas and motivations, acknowledging one’s own biases and limitations, and considering both the probable effects and the unintended consequences of a course of action. Within each of these categories are identifiable cognitive skills that determine how well an executive performs,

These skills include:

TASKS – the ability to properly define a problem, identify the highest-priority issues, and assess both what is known and what needs to be known in order to render a sound decision.

OTHERS – the ability to recognize underlying agendas, understand multiple perspectives, and anticipate likely emotional reactions.

SELF – the ability to identify one’s own mistakes, encourage and seek out constructive criticism, and adjust one’s own behavior.

Despite its multiple Jack Welch references, Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have, can not be easily dismissed as yet another management-know-it-all handbook. Menkes’ theory of executive intelligence is actually based on eight years of research on intelligence tests and cognitive skills. Menkes even verified his findings through hundreds of interviews with senior executives, including thirty of the most celebrated CEOs in the world.

Menkes devotes the first part of his book to carefully explaining his theory of executive intelligence. Once he gets the reader comfortable with the idea, he switches gears and takes aim at undermining the current fixation on personality type and style for recruiting and promoting executives. In Menkes view, “personality and style are only tangentially related to how well executives actually do their job.” Menkes suggests corporations focus on measuring executive intelligence, which he believes encompasses the abilities that make up such concepts as “business acumen,” “sound judgment,” and “business smarts.”

Whether the concept of executive intelligence will revolutionize management thinking or become as entrenched in business lexicon as emotional intelligence remains to be seen. What is clear is that Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have provides a unique perspective on the role intelligence plays in business success. Rather than accrediting superstar leadership to an innate gift or raw talent, Menkes gives a vivid description of the skills necessary to make every star burn brighter.

December 5, 2005
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