Multiple intelligences for ethical leadership

Companies can be torpedoed by unethical behavior. The news is rarely without a story of some business leader suffering from an ethical lapse. What always surprises me is that many of these individuals are bright: good educations with impressive track records in their respective fields. Of course, greed and arrogance can certainly filter one’s judgment.

What are some emotionally intelligent checks and balances that leaders can employ to lower their risk for unethical behavior? My colleague, Howard Gardner, shared his thoughts about several intelligences that are most germane to ethical leadership in my Leadership: A Master Class series. Here’s what he had to say.

“I think that leaders in general need to have linguistic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, and what I call existential intelligence. All of which are very closely linked with emotional intelligence.

Linguistic intelligence allows you to tell your story effectively. It’s crucial for leaders to share their idea with a team, investors, business partners and customers. Your authenticity – or lack thereof – will come through with how you articulate your vision. Interpersonal intelligence is important because you have to know how people are going to react to what you say. You’re obviously going to turn people off with your inability to connect. You must have some deeper understanding about yourself without being obsessive about it.

Existential intelligence is kind of honorific intelligence. Whenever we talk about leaders who go beyond the managerial category, leaders who actually move people to do and think and behave in ways they wouldn’t before, they are able to give us a view of the big picture. They have an ability to deal with big questions and help people find meaning in their work or personal lives.

The ethics comes into play when you ask yourself, ‘What’s the right thing to do in the long run? What’s the right thing to do in a transparent way so you aren’t operating in a secret vacuum?’ If you think about the long run, are transparent about it and your message is in synch with your vision and intention, it’s very hard to be unethical.”

Sources – LinkedIn


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