The Inner Workings of Executive Coaching

Note: This is the 2nd in a three part series on Leadership Coordination, a.k.a., Executive Coaching. Previous installments of all blogs can be found on my website under "Steve's Blogs" - http://stevemarshallassociates.com

In my work, I regularly assess new clients on the basis of three aspects of their personalities; IQ, PQ, and EQ. Acronyms are confusing, right? Here is a key:

  1. IQ = Intelligence Quotient
  2. PQ = Political Quotient/Intelligence
  3. EQ = Emotional Quotient/Intelligence

In this week's blog I will focus solely on IQ and PQ.

First is IQ. I am fairly sure we all took the Stanford Binet IQ Intelligence Scales at some point in our lives. It calculates your intelligence as the numerator of our mental age divided by our chronological age and multiplied by 100.

At that point, you get a score and the result will be interpreted according to the scale to the left. This test as well as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale have been used (and mis-used) for years to help teachers and guidance counselors steer children and adolescents into appropriate further education and trades that will enable them to be successful.

The challenge with this narrow approach is, well, it is rather narrow. The make-up of human beings is far richer than what can be measured by either a simple or complex cognitive ability test.

For me, I like to look at the whole person and how they are able to interact with other people, especially in the workplace. In addition, since I mostly work with leaders, I assume that they have some amount of IQ or they wouldn't be in their job in the first place. Let's move on to PQ.

What is PQ?

Whenever two or more people get together for the same purported purpose, there are politics. In the workplace there are lots of politics because, at its essence, politics is the practice and theory of influencing other people on an organizational and/or individual level, with an outcome of increasing personal power, prestige, and/or position and sometimes for the betterment of the whole. Taken to the extreme, it is sometimes not for the betterment of the whole, but, rather, for the individual involved in wielding the political stick.

Sound like a waste of time? It is, to some degree; in the extreme, studies by Gallup have shown that office politics, when done wrong, can expend more than 50% of an employees time as they try to just do their job!

Where a leaders' high PQ can be valuable is if they see where and when the beginnings of unrest and discontent are forming, which, left unchecked, can lead to lack of alignment and focus on the goals of the organization.

A high PQ can also be invaluable to a leader as they attempt to categorize their team members and how each team member approaches the conflict that invariably arises when more than one person is seeking power and/or position through politics.

Political Intelligence gets a bad rap. Most leaders have heard only the bad "political" stories. The reality is that the negative application of political intelligence is what prevents both individuals and organizations from maintaining productive relationships and achieving business objectives in turn.

What next? How about Political Intelligence Training? Conducting political intelligence workshops helps leaders:

  • Identify personal preferences regarding political behavior and assess their level of political intelligence;
  • Determine the extent to which their goals can be aligned with those of the organization;
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different political behaviors and formulate appropriate responses for each;
  • Consider the changes they need to make to improve their levels of political intelligence;
  • Create productive and meaningful workplace relationships;
  • Share a common language while interacting with other on organizational politics;
  • Get things done in spite of prevalence of organizational politics; and,
  • Work well with even those they dislike.

Key Learnings for the importance of political intelligence:

  1. Political intelligence can be used to develop effective workplace relationships and improve performance levels;
  2. Political intelligence training can educate leaders in the positive application of organizational politics.


Next week: A Look at Emotional Intelligence.