Book Review: The Intangibles of Leadership – The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance

intangiblesThe Intangibles of Leadership – The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance. As an Organisational Psychologist, Davis is routinely exposed to executives at all levels and so is uniquely placed to be able to identify which characteristics and behaviours result a superior leadership performance.

 

Davis’ conclusion from his years of research and experience is that there are 10 ‘intangibles‘ or characteristics that are the result of an individual’s underlying values and psychological mechanisms.  He suggests that, although intelligence, training and experience are important, it is these 10 characteristics that lead to some leaders, not only succeeding, but thriving.

Overview:

Each ‘intangible’ is discussed in its own chapter, with case studies to illustrate and highlight the importance and relevance of each characteristic.
Each chapter is also structured in a standard format asking and answering some fundamental questions for each ‘intangible’:

  • What is it?
  • How do I know it when I see it?
  • How do I get it?

This style not only makes the information easier to absorb, but it also provides a practical approach that an executive can use to develop each quality themselves.
The 10 ‘intangibles’ are:

  • Wisdom – Experience borne of involvement in business, tempered by reflection and by putting each experience into context.
  • Will – The act of getting things done by purely applying oneself to the task diligently and consistently.
  • Executive Maturity – Having sufficient self control and awareness to control your emotional reaction to an event and the ability to evoke emotions in others for positive influence.
  • Integrity – Having a value system that is moral and consistently and visibly holding yourself to that value system.
  • Social Judgement – Having emotional awareness and intelligence and understanding people as a means to leading them.
  • Presence – A gravitas that allows you to be recognized.
  • Self-Insight – Recognition of what it is that drives you and the impact you have on others is a key way  to improve what you do and how you do it.
  • Self-Efficacy – A self belief that you can make a difference and control events to get things done.
  • Fortitude – The internal strength that you confront challenges with.
  • Fallibility – An understanding that you are going to get things wrong but will still attempt the difficult tasks.

Overall:

For anyone that is well read in the Leadership field, many of these characteristics will be familiar.  What Davis has achieved in this book is to present each characteristic in a clear and easily accessible manner so that an executive or aspiring leader can indentify ‘the differences that make THE difference’.  He has essentially made these ‘intangibles’ tangible and provided an action plan for leaders to develop the characteristics that can improve both their individual career and the performance of the organisations they are leading.

A valuable addition to any library on leadership.

4.5/5

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