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Leadership is the position held by a leader, the capacity to lead, and the act of leading. However, these descriptions limit an understanding of leadership to the mechanics of leadership or observable behaviour Buell, Recent education discourse draws a conceptual distinction between leadership and management Bush, The distinction involves the degree to which one is accountable to an organisation, team or group. Thus, management can be understood as caretaking, while leadership is custodial in nature. In a quest for a definition of leadership, Grunes highlights the potential of a leader to influence others, a situation or task.

This definition is in alignment with a custodial responsibility. Mazdai and Mohammadi are cognisant of the fact that leadership is a process, ongoing, dynamic and interactive. One commonality that these varied definitions offer is that a leader can only exist in relation to others. As a result, there is a clear link to Ronthy's LQ theory that posits that leadership is a process, driven by a leader, who has the potential to influence a team through the vehicle of LQ.

In the same way that leadership is not an easy concept to distill, so too, to describe intelligence is no easy task. Legg and Hutter define intelligence as "an agent's ability to achieve goals in a wide range of environments".

This receives ballast from Ronthy , when she observes that "intelligence has to do with being able to see the world from a number of perspectives". Academically, intelligent leaders have long been admired. Modern trends in defining intelligence are revisiting the word's Latinate etymology, which establishes the word as synonymous with discernment and comprehension.

The emergent observation of other intelligences, such as emotional, social and spiritual intelligences, are evidence of this. Furthermore, traits like discernment and comprehension have relevance for leadership. It is leaders who must make decisions based on their experience, knowledge or information, in the belief that a positive outcome based on their choice might occur. Often credited with the coinage, Thorndike states that 'social intelligence' is the ability to understand and manage people Riggio, In the s, Wechsler proposed a view of intelligence that includes both intellectual and non-intellectual elements, but it is only in the s, with Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, that a more holistic view of intelligence emerged Gardner, , cited in Labby et al.

Gardner's theory prioritises interpersonal and intrapersonal forms of intelligence, alongside traditional cognitive intelligence or IQ, thereby encouraging new ways of thinking about intelligence. Sternberg , cited in Riggio, offered his triarchic theory of leader intelligence, that categorises analytical, creative and practical intelligences, which align best with leadership understood as a predictor of future success Labby et al.

Leadership intelligence: Unlocking the potential for school leadership effectiveness

While the discussion of 'leadership' and 'intelligence' has been brief, it provides a useful foundation to explore leadership intelligence. What follows is a discussion of the three intelligences of the LQ model, namely: rational; emotional; and spiritual intelligence. Other intelligences like practical; cultural; and social intelligences also exist, but for the purpose of the LQ model, only rational, emotional and spiritual intelligence will be described. The study of human intelligence has long been contentious King et al.

From as early as the s, when Binet and Simon developed an intelligence test, psychologists have been trying to quantify intelligence. With the popularising of intelligence tests, the use of the acronym IQ Intelligence Quotient became synonymous with intelligence during the twentieth century Labby et al. Ronthy argues that the personality tests of the s were not 'fit for purpose', since they were primarily intended to diagnose psychological disorders, and were not intended to be a predictor of intelligence. IQ quantifies rational intelligence, as one's "ability to think critically and to be able to analyse a situation or solve a concrete problem" Ronthy, As rational intelligence, IQ is prioritised as the intelligence we learn through our schooling in our development to adulthood, and follows on from our primitive or physical intelligence, that is, the intelligence we are born with Wigglesworth, The leadership-rational intelligence relationship is a well-researched topic, as society has valued intelligence as a pre-requisite for leadership Judge et al.

For instance, Lord, Foti and De Vader found that of 59 characteristics, rational intelligence was the archetypal characteristic of a leader. Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee acknowledge that leaders need enough intellect to carry out their responsibilities and to deal with challenges. Gifted leaders are those who possess outstanding analytical and conceptual thinking skills and are therefore of great value to organisations. Common sense dictates that rational intelligence can predict suitability for a leadership role, and influence leader selection and ultimately leadership effectiveness.


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Nevertheless, no examination, qualification or formal training can adequately prepare one for the role of leader Goleman et al. In some cases, rational intelligence may actually inhibit leadership effectiveness, as highlighted in Fiedler's cognitive resources theory, where leaders are less likely to perform in a time of crisis, due to their focus on problem solving, rather than the task at hand.

For this reason, researchers make the distinction between 'leadership' and 'management'. A manager utilises rational intelligence by being task-focused, while leaders prioritise other intelligences Ronthy, Leadership is characterised by one's spirit and includes one's personality and vision, while management is characterised by one's mind and includes accurate calculation and routines, while the notion that "managers manage change, leaders manage growth", further demonstrates the different intelligences at work in the two roles Adair, , cited in Msila, South African school leadership teams lead predominantly with their rational intelligence IQ at the expense of the other intelligences Bush, This means that schools are disadvantaged.

Goleman advocates a synergetic approach to the leadership-intelligence relationship, observing that: "how we do in life is determined by both - it is not just IQ, but emotional intelligence that matters". Goleman's view has potential implications for SA school leadership, that we will return to later. Emotional intelligence EQ has its origins in Thorndike's social intelligence theory, and Gardner's personal intelligence theory, although it was Bar-On , who coined the term 'emotional quotient' EQ , and Salovey and Mayer who coined the term 'emotional intelligence'.

Up until the mids, EQ was a minor area of research that few knew much about. Definitions for EQ vary, prioritising different elements or aspects Cai, In , Salovey and Mayer's p. Likewise, in the s, Covey , cited in Labby et al. He highlights self-awareness, a key feature of EQ, in his work. BarOn , cited in Labby et al. This description highlights two key elements of EQ, namely self-management and relationship management. Zohar and Marshall state that if IQ is our serial thinking -accurate, precise and reliable; then EQ is our associative thinking - the kind of thinking that forms links between emotions, bodily feelings and the environment.

Although these definitions vary, none is more inclusive than that of Goleman. His work not only popularised research on EQ but, due to the practical application of the theory to daily life, also demonstrated how EQ could be learnt and acquired as a skill. Zohar and Marshall echo the sentiment of Goleman ; see also Goleman et al.

Goleman et al. According to Bipath , EQ is an essential skill for leadership effectiveness, and a predictor of superior performance. Research indicates that EQ is critical to both personal and organisation success Batool, ; Labby et al.

Effective leaders not only have the technical skills to perform their roles, but, more importantly, demonstrate emotional intelligence Batool, Furthermore, Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee , cited in Riggio, argue that EQ is an essential skill for effective leadership, and that it gains in prominence the more senior the leadership role in the organisation. Riggio states that the potential a leader has to influence the emotional climate in an organisation should not be underestimated.

South African school leaders could benefit from the practice of EQ because they are under pressure to deal with a myriad of issues simultaneously, which include under-qualified and poorly trained teachers, low staff morale, absenteeism, violence, crime and poorly resourced schools. Mafora states that South African township schools fail because they are hindered by superficially democratic environments, resistance to change, hierarchical power structures, and a lack of accountability. There would seem to be value in SA school principals developing their EQ skills to deal with these complex issues.

However, there is another component to effective leadership, namely, a spiritual component. SQ is considered by those who write about it to be the ultimate intelligence and the foundation of both IQ and EQ. Ronthy states that in a world characterised by change, leaders need to find an inner security, and the secret to this leadership lies in a leader's SQ. Recent research brings to the fore spirituality and SQ in the work place Klenke, For instance, Wigglesworth defines SQ in terms of a set of 21 skills that can be learned. Her definition includes wisdom and compassion, which resonate with Zohar and Marshall's description of SQ Emmons defines SQ as the ability to use spiritual information to solve everyday problems.

Zohar and Marshall describe SQ as the soul's intelligence that integrates our lives, giving us insight into our world, including organisations.

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It is this transforming element that has the potential to develop leaders and those around them Hyson, Astin highlights the importance of SQ in the transformation of an organisation. Covey , cited in Hyson, recognised SQ as a key component of leadership, contributing to the spiritual intelligence-leadership relationship. Wigglesworth believes that SQ is the intelligence that will differentiate leaders and predict leadership effectiveness. Adair , cited in Msila, describes leadership as being spirit-led. Such leadership includes personality, vision and a shared purpose.