The Influence of Non-Cognitive Intelligence on Leadership Performance

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

Imagine the myriad list of books, articles, and other publications on the subject of leadership. While there are many excellent references on the subject of leadership effectiveness, little attention has been given to the influence of non-cognitive intelligence on leadership performance.

Concerning (cognitive) intelligence:

  • Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is by far the most commonly known and widely recognized measurement of intelligence in the world.
  • IQ can be accurately measured by a variety of tests and methods.
  • IQ is a reliable predictor of success in some human endeavors; however,
  • IQ is not a reliable predictor of leadership performance.

Concerning (non-cognitive) intelligence:

  • Research suggests that IQ as a definition of intelligence is too narrow in the context of leadership performance.
  • Research suggests that there is a more significant form of intelligence which is now referred to as non-cognitive or Emotional Intelligence (EI).
  • In leadership positions, as much as 80% of the difference between exemplary and average leadership performance is attributable to EI.
  • EI is a reliable predictor of leadership performance and has even greater significance as a leader ascends the organization and assumes greater levels of responsibility.
  • Lack of EI is a reliable predictor of leadership derailment and the most common reason for poor and ineffective leadership performance.

The following diagram illustrates the significance of non-cognitive intelligence (EI) versus cognitive and/or technical (IQ) skills at higher levels of management.

Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

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