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The real story behind IQ is narrated very well in Harvard Professor Howard Gardener’s path-breaking work called MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES.

In 1900, Paris city was seeing a huge influx of people from the villages. These people were migrating along with their childern. In 1899, France had made it mandatory that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 be made to attend school. Because of the influx, the government needed a way to assess the intelligence of the children so that the more intelligent kids got priority. Alfred Binet was a psychologist who had divised a method which is now famously known as the IQ test.

However, Howard Gardener, through his book MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCIES, explained that there are eight other forms of intelligence. These are Literary, musical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intra-personal, spatial, naturalistic and spiritual. It is important to understand how each one works. Because in varying degrees we are gifted with all the nine intelligences to deliver better results.

Literary intelligence is about the capability to read and write well. Between a manager who can do the maths well, and another who also reads and writes well, the latter is likely to succeed much more. In a world where we have to network with different teams and nationalities, the capacity to be a better leader is determined by how well we express ourselves through languages reading and writing.

Music is about harmony. Studies indicate that children who play an instrument learn to “listen” much better-they grow up to be better emphathetic professionals. Not everyone is endowed with the intelligence to play music, but the capability to build appreciation can be cultivated by anyone, and it has several benefits.

Great sportspersons have what is called kinesthetic intelligence. In certain kinds of sports, we do not have time to think. In fact, it is said if you think, you are dead. Consider sports such as boxing, fencing, etc. People who play such sports are able to take critical decisions involving the body and the mind on-the-fly where each move is a new move, and sometimes life depends on it. How is a firefighter, trauma surgeon’s job any different? How much time do we think they have to process information and take action? Increasingly, professions of the future will need leaders with greater kinesthetic capability.

We have all come across many people who are able to converse better, have the ability to make friends quickly, and solve problems collaboratively. This category of people have high interpersonal intelligence. They work better as a part of a group. This is hugely important for those who want to lead. Sometimes we need to follow, but at all the times we have to collaborate effectively.

Given a position of power and authority, why do some managers behave in a despotic manner, and others in a firm but humane way? Those who are more self-aware have a realistic understanding of who they are, what their true needs are, they are emotionally stable and can deal better with the ups and downs in life and business. These people have a higher degree of what Gardener calls intra-personal intelligence.

This is extremely important in professionals whose decisions impact a large number of other people. Spatial intelligence means the ability to navigate. In today’s world, in a profession like selling, you realize that some salespeople can map and chart a client organization much better than others. Some people can land in a new town, and in a matter of time, map it really well. These are known as spatially more intelligent people.

In the early days, every tribe had someone who was better at recognizing animal calls, knew one animal from the other by looking at hoof or pug marks. That individual was very important for the safety of the hunters and success of any mission. When farming became the dominant activity, this person was the one who knew one herb from another, could tell which mushroom to eat and which to avoid. Such people were gifted with naturalistic intelligence. As we all become more environmentally aware and sensitive to our planet, naturalistic intelligence i.e. the ability to relate to the natural world, will be in demand across professions.

Finally, there is what Gardener calls existential intelligence, or for lack of a better word, spiritual intelligence. Most of us appreciate the presence of a higher power. Some people can connect easily with the presence of such a power, and as a result, research has proven that they can better deflect anxiety, can better deal with loss, and can better balance decisions with yardsticks of morality and self-governance.

Such professionals, who internally know what is right, and more importantly, can stand up and do the right thing, again and again, will increasingly become more relevant in the world of business.

Multiple intelligence by Howard Gardener is a book worth being picked up and ready by all potential leaders of the future.


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