Ronald E. Riggio, Susan E. Murphy and Francis J. Pirozzolo, eds. Multiple Intelligences and
Leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2002.
One of the wonderful things about using an integral framework to look at the literature on leadership is that, indeed, virtually everything fits. The field of leadership, as an academic field, as well as a field of development and practice, lends itself beautifully to using this framework for sorting various approaches with the map, but still has much to be done for the more integrative work on the relationships among variables. For that reason, this book is very valuable as an example of bringing the explorations of multiple intelligences to leadership, as Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee have done with emotional intelligence. The idea of multiple intelligences corresponds to that of “lines of development” in integral theory.
The concept of lines of development is a mapping tool. It helps us take apart our experience (differentiate) in order to more clearly put it back together (integrate). In reality, there are no lines of development. However, as elements of an integral map, they help us identify blind spots and variations in individual development and corresponding behaviors. Therefore, it is probably most useful to treat this book as essentially about differentiation of ways of knowing and being in the doing of leadership.
The twelve articles presented about identifying the various domains of intelligence (the lines), how these relate to models of leadership and application to leader effectiveness. Most of the contributors are psychologists, with two notable exceptions—Bernard M. Bass and Robert J. House, two very notable leadership scholars. Other notable names include leadership scholars Fred Fiedler and Stephen Zacarro.
Ron Riggio sets the stage by reviewing how the question of intelligence has historically been included in the leadership literature. And here we also see how leadership scholars are beginning to thing more integrally: “One obvious limitation to this approach, however, was that it did not take context or situation factors into account.” Thus, culture and systems were generally not addressed in the literature. Fred Fiedler emphasizes this. Bernard Bass suggests there are three types of intelligence: cognitive, social and emotional. This omits such types as kinesthetic and spiritual. Also, one concern may be that the focus on multiple intelligences may be reawaking a focus on the (discredited) trait approach to effective leadership. This is the “born” side of the question of are leaders born or made?
One of the themes that is in this book (and many others) is linking leadership to effectiveness. Well, why not? We want to know what works. The dilemma is that concepts like effectiveness cannot be determined without attention to culture and systemic variables in the context of leadership. Have we established a taxonomy of such contexts, aside from types of change efforts or political systems? Here is where an integral perspective will also provide value added by helping us see how developmental levels of culture and systems are important variables and elements in understanding effectiveness or success. Now there’s a potential dissertation or advanced scholarly work to take advantage of the Globe studies of leadership cultures.
I discovered the work of Martin M. Chemers in this volume. His approach is unique in that he provides a unifying framework for the study of effective leadership or leadership efficacy. He states,
“…contemporary approaches…are moving in the direction of the conceptualization of a more fluid interaction between person and environment with the acknowledgement of the individual’s actions in construction and shaping of the environment rather than just reacting to it. Thus, rather than a fixed and unchanging capacity, intelligence (or leadership) becomes a set of skills and knowledge that change and develop in interaction with an environment that can, in turn, be shaped and modified to facilitate a good (i.e. effective) fit.”
This seems like an approach that lays a solid foundation for looking to an integral map or model of leadership that includes all of these factors and levels or stages of development, as well.
Chemers defines leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” (Emphasis mine]. He goes on to briefly discuss the complexity of organizational settings and then focuses on the relationship between leader and follower.
“Leadership effectiveness depends on the leader behaving in a manner that (1) elicits the trust and loyalty of followers (image management); (2) motivates followers toward enthusiastic effort (relationship development); and (3) applies the efforts, knowledge, and material resources of the group to mission accomplishment (resource deployment).”
Interestingly, he draws on J.R. Meindl and others to place greater emphasis on leadership and a relationship/social phenomenon in relation to the environment: “…the tendency to credit leaders for anything—good or bad—that happens within an organization is so strong in our culture that it constitutes a ‘romance of leadership.’” This is what I call the reliance of a heroic archetype of leadership. So, it is a successful relationship that leads to leadership efficacy. In this relationship the leader provides a context for motivation, guidance and support through accurate judgments of the followers and a relationship that is equitable and fair. He goes on to say that transformation leaders exhibit the highest level of development of the capabilities of image management, relationship development and resource deployment. Here is the opening for a developmental model, but it is lacking.
Riggio and Francis J. Pirozzolo conclude the volume with their observations. There is agreement that there is a link between different types of leadership and effectiveness. However, there is disagreement about the role played since the relationship is complex. Next, There is no agreed upon framework. This is an area of exploration in the beginning of its development. Also, measurement is a challenge. Of course, this is even more true of variables that cannot be measured, such as spiritual intelligence. But integral methodological pluralism should help us here. Making the effort toward incorporating multiple intelligence constructs into leadership research is a potentially fruitful path to follow. This work can be applied to selection and training of leaders, although there is need for caution because the evidence is not yet there to clearly indicatethe utility of this approach.