Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Recently Won the CMI Gold Award for Leadership.
Polman is one of the new breed of leaders who are changing the trajectory of business on our planet. How does he do it?
A high intelligence quotient (IQ) is not a guarantee for success in life or business – OK nothing new here. Leaders must also have a high emotional quotient (EQ). Leaders need to be bright but they also need to be self-aware and socially-aware, and through awareness be capable of managing themselves and their relationships better [Daniel Goleman et al]. Leadership life is demanding and stressful and good physical health (PQ) is required too. However, there is a further dimension to the new leadership formula, that of spiritual awareness, or SQ.
I use the word spiritual here not in the sense of piety, religiousness, worship or godliness per se. I use it in the sense of a search for a higher meaning and purpose, and a recognition that we are on this planet to do more than consume some of its resources.
SQ goes beyond intelligence, social skills and the ability to relate to others.
SQ is about creativity and questioning. SQ means recognising our own roles and the role of our enterprises in a more holistic, global, environmental and human context. A high SQ means having the ability to see beyond the traditional role of the enterprise as a value-adding machine. SQ recognises the responsibility that the organization has to society and to its people. SQ is about a deeper purpose to existence. Polman exudes this.
SQ provides the ability to think outside the box, to see the greater whole, to recognise linkages and patterns. This ability is not a result of cognitive reasoning, but of intuition, insight and high self-esteem. For businesses, SQ will be as important for success as EQ. SQ will add directly to the long-term success (even survival) of the enterprise and to improving the bottom-line. It will do this with breakthrough innovation, talent retention, greater wisdom and improved judgment.
Paul Polman has what I call a high Leadership Quotient:
Leadership Quotient = IQ + EQ + PQ + SQ
LQ is the sum of intelligence, emotional wellbeing, physical health and spiritual insight.
The future of leadership will provide a tremendous opportunity to change our world for good.
Although high-LQ leaders are few in number, the number is increasing. These new leaders will, hopefully, be capable of creating a new business, political, social and global paradigm. Watching the evening news, I think we need them.