The Multiple Intelligences

The concept of situational leadership states that there’s no single “best” style of leadership. Instead, the most effective leadership style is one that is both task-relevant and is tailored to the ability and willingness of those the leader is attempting to lead.

One component of psychology that plays an important part in generating willingness is intelligence. Motivation plays a part for certain, but the spark we know as motivation comes from somewhere, and it comes from a person’s intelligence. Or more appropriately, from their intelligences.

Humans have the capacity to embody different types of intelligence. Each of us has more than one intelligence within us.

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

  1. Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  3. Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  4. Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  5. Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  6. Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
  8. Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

So to start, take some time to assess what intelligences you rely on. Identify your strengths. Konwing this, look to tailor your leadership styles to capitalize on these strengths.

Take some time to identify where your intelligences reside. This is a useful exercise, as it may highlight that you’re putting time and energy into areas that do not resonate with your true skills – i.e. you’re outside your comfort zone because you’re being called on to apply yourself in an area in which you have no skill! You may also identify that you’re not putting time and energy into developing and leveraging the intelligences that you do have, allowing them to atrophy.

Knowing your intelligences is half of the equation. You also need to determine what intelligences your people rely on. Understanding what intelligences your people operate with will allow you to both tailor your leadership style and leverage your team’s diversity.

Summing-up: Identifying theses intelligences will give you added insight into what makes you tick and how best to leverage the skills and aptitudes that make up who you are, and this will make your personal and professional lives more enjoyable and successful.

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