Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Last night I finished Executive Intelligence by Justin Menkes. My girlfriend was looking at business books in the library and I picked up this one.

There are a lot of books on what makes a good executive and this one tries to cut across the grain of all of them by simplifying down to the basics. His hypothesis is that executive performance is mainly driven by a kind of intelligence, a sub-set of general intelligence that is focussed on critical thinking applied to three areas - business tasks, relations to others and self-awareness.

It's an interesting idea but not very completely developed in this book. A lot of the book feels like filler - short chapters with ambitious titles but not much meat on their bones with a lot of anecdotes taken from CEO interviews. It gets better towards the end when Menkes criticizes not only some of the most popular other theories like "emotional intelligence" and "charismatic leaders" but manages to side swipe most other current theories as focusing on side issues and things that only have indirect effects on management quality.

One other nice feature is that his main points, and particularly his criticisms, are backed up by actual research rather than just anecdotes and supposition. I don't do much hiring of CEOs but there are a number of things I can take from this book and apply to my own job where I do help interview prospective new hires.

If you're interested in this topic, you can get the gist of this book in an hour or two, mainly by looking at one detailed chart, skimming the first half of the book and reading the last few chapters in more depth.

Amazon Link: Executive Intelligence

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