What is the composition of a good leader?

……Are leaders more effective when they have a  high IQ, EQ, CQ?


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Are leaders born or made? Bligh (2009) assumes “that persons inherit certain qualities that make them suited to be good leaders” but also states that “leadership is a set of behaviors and competencies that anyone can develop, given the right experiences, circumstances, and training.” It is observed, nonetheless, that there are certain qualities possessed by leaders which aid in effective leadership. These qualities are intelligence, sociability, self-confidence, integrity and determination or perseverance (Bligh, 2009).

Intelligence plays an integral role in effective leadership. Gone are the days where intelligence only was associated with one’s IQ, now it has to do with your IQ, CQ and EQ to be an effective leader – cognitive, character and emotional intelligence respectively. Organizations once used high IQ in order to determine whether or not an individual who they employed had leadership potential, as these persons would more than likely be able to lead the business to success through their good decision making and problem solving skills. However, the addition of two other forms of intelligence, emotional intelligence and character intelligence, have proved an increase in the effectiveness of a leader when an organization chooses an individual to lead.

Emotional intelligence has to do with whether or not a leader has the ability to connect with other persons in the organization. Persons with high emotional intelligence were able to put aside their logical reasoning and connect on an emotional level with people in order to maintain or develop common ground regarding courses of action. Daniel Kahneman (2002) found that persons are more likely to make decisions for emotional reasons before they make decisions based on rationality, which supported the notion that while cognitive intelligence is an integral part in effective leadership, so is emotional intelligence. Additionally, the more self aware you are, the more confidence you exude to the organization and the likelihood persons are going to believe your courses of action and follow suit.

Character Intelligence, or character quotient, also plays an equal role in effective leadership as the other two forms of intelligence as it is representative of one’s character, i.e. one’s beliefs and morals. A person with a high and positive character quotient would not easily compromise their moral beliefs to please an organization. This is where self-awareness comes into play, as many leaders fall to corruption when this trait is not present.


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If a leader is intelligent and has good character but is incapable of understanding others on an emotional level, then they have little influence on an organization. If a leader has good emotional intelligence and character but lacks intelligence, then it is evident that their credibility, problem solving and decision making is not respected in the public eye. Also, if a leader has a high level of intellect and emotional intelligence but lacks good character, then they are easier to not only fall prey to corruption, but will produce reprehensible intentions. Therefore, all three forms of intelligence must be balanced and work in unison with each other, as a leader has to be smart, be of sound mind and self-aware as well as have the ability to influence others on an emotional level.

Yukl & Mahsud (2010) states that an organization increases its likelihood of success if it has efficient and reliable operations, it provides services and the products in which customers want and there is a high level of member commitment and skill. In order to reach that goal, a leader must have the ability to use their intelligence to ensure that the best course of action is taken where operations are concerned. Without that expertise, not only will the resources be wasted, but the likelihood of success would decrease because of lacking effective leadership. Persons in the leadership position therefore needs to develop their skills in order to lead an organization to foster its growth and development, which ultimately leads to success and productivity.

By Alexandra Daley



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