09/3 – A New Take on Leadership for the 21st Century with New Methods for Development and Transformation: LQ –Leader Intelligence and Development Dialogues

Marika Ronthy

Marika Ronthy

Marika Ronthy

Marika Ronthy

We need a new understanding of what leadership is all about and the skills that must be developed to meet the requirements of a new world. We also need dynamic tools for development and transformation.

Why do we need a new understanding? Why do we need new methods and new tools? Why can leaders no longer do as they have always done? There are three simple answers: Firstly, we need a new understanding because the world is going through enormous changes and the challenges need to be met with human and ethical values that we possess, but have forgotten. Secondly, we cannot continue to use old methods and tools, which is as obvious as the fact that we are not driving Oldsmobiles anymore. The Performance Appraisal (PA), for example, is a method and a tool from the time of Management by Objectives (MBO) and the industrial era; a very instrumental way of looking at an organisation and a very mechanistic way of conducting PAs. Thirdly, leaders of the 21st century need new skills due to all the changes in the business world, globalisation, and a young communicative generation demanding influence and wanting to contribute.

Thus, the future needs democratic leaders rather than authoritarian ones, who belong to the hierarchical organisation. The future demands the concept of us instead of the concept of me. The future needs more of horizontal communication in the organisation than vertical communication.

These are my strong beliefs after four decades as a clinical and organisational psychologist. I am also convinced that we all need to look inside ourselves in order to discover our values and intentions, as well as our purpose and meaning, both in life and in the role as leaders. This inner intelligence comes from the whole: it is our spiritual intelligence (SQ), the source of creativity and creation. It is our ultimate intelligence that has long been ignored in business. SQ is the core intelligence type in Leader Intelligence.

What is Leader Intelligence?

Leader Intelligence focuses on all the competences in spiritual and emotional intelligence. This means that you must start asking yourself which core values that are the most important ones, that motivate you, form your vision, and give you purpose and meaning in your leadership. When you have answered these questions you also need to ask yourself how well you know yourself. How comfortable do you feel when your employees react strongly? How do you handle your own feelings? How easily do you communicate in various situations? All these aspects add up to the concept of being.

The next third of your competences belongs to your rational intelligence. Here, your skills are in analysing, strategic thinking, handling figures, planning and setting goals. You need these competences for everything that needs doing. Most managers of today have been educated in this rational way of thinking.

We know that people become motivated, engaged and involved when they have leaders who appreciate them, have great communication skills and a warm heart. All these skills can be trained and are also the parameters for success.

Leader Intelligence comes from within the leader when they possess all insights, and are very self-aware and grounded in themselves. You need Leader Intelligence in order to have Leadership Intelligence, since this becomes evident in the interaction between leader and employee.

Everything starts within: LQ = SQ+EQ>IQ.

From Management by Objectives (MBO) to Management by Dialogue (MBD)

The tool Performance Appraisal was developed out of MBO. It focuses on setting goals, planning and evaluating employee performance. In many countries all over the world employees are not satisfied with the PA, and nor are the managers. Why? As it is a mechanistic way of conducting the appraisal it does neither give the manager, nor the employee the necessary strength to fully understand the purpose of the appraisal and to see the result of it. It is conducted annually, which means that many issues can be perceived as “ancient history” in a time of rapid changes.

I have a different view in the form of a new type of performance appraisal called Development Dialogue (DD).My method and model is based on my experience of educating more than 4.000 managers in how to conduct performance appraisals. My empirical material comes from the 1980s and 1990s.

As a consultant I am mostly invited to a company for the following reason: an HR manager phones me and says that the company employees are not satisfied with the way their managers conduct the performance appraisals. Then the HR manager asks me for a simple solution, e.g. a new check list.

In the very beginning I was trapped in the same way of thinking about how to conduct PAs. During all the years of educating managers I realised, however, that90% of them said that it was very difficult to give feedback in a proper and respectful manner. It was even worse if the employee’s reaction was an emotional one. The managers did not know how to handle that.

After a few years, I changed my set-up in the training programme. I decided to find out where the problem originated when conducting PAs and I changed the name and purpose of the appraisal into Development Dialogue: How to cross your comfort boundary.

For many years, I started every session with these two questions:

  1. What do you want to know in order to conduct a DD?
  2. What do you need in order to conduct a high quality DD?

My hypothesis was that managers in general are bad communicators and have a lack of self-knowledge. If my hypothesis was right, the questions I was going to receive ought to be more about the communication skill between the manager and the employee.

After all the years of educating mangers in DD, a certain pattern was revealed and this was the result:64% of the questions I received were about communication skills and how to handle the relationship between manager and employee. This also included how to handle different emotional reactions.36% of the questions were about the structure and technical skills.

My hypothesis was confirmed! The analysis resulted in a completely new model for conducting DDs and later also in a new model for understanding leadership: Leader Intelligence.

The DD is a method and a tool in order to engage your employee into a higher understanding of the fact that everyone needs to contribute to the business as a whole. In order to achieve this, the DD must start at a group level. I call this Business Dialogue since the goal must be to focus on the business and not on the individual. This dialogue is first conducted with the group and then on an individual level. In order to use this method and tool, the leader must develop new leadership skills, which derivate from leader intelligence(LQ) and a holistic way of thinking.

Performance Appraisal vs. Development Dialogue

The difference between these two concepts can be described further like this:

Goal setting vs. vision driven

Short term thinking vs. long term thinking

Vertical vs. horizontal communication

Monologue vs. dialogue

Arguing vs. listening

Planning vs. staying with the flow

Answers vs. questions

Parts vs. whole

Authoritarian vs. democratic


To sum up, organisations of the future need more leaders and fewer managers, meaning we need leaders who focus on being, rather than doing. The result will be organisations with both successful employees and successful activities.

About the Author

Marika Ronthy is a licensed psychologist and has worked as a clinical psychologist and, since the mid-1980s, as a lecturer and business consultant, mainly within the areas of leadership and personal development. She is also the founder of Amfora Future Dialogue AB,

She has created a model for performance appraisals at all levels of an organisation. The model is described in her Swedish book Utvecklingssamtalets 7 Nycklar (2004), Liber, the title of which translates to “The 7 Keys to a Performance Appraisal”.

Other books written by Marika (Swedish titles translated to English here) include:

–        Conversations that Develop (co-author Suzanne Rosendahl). 1992. Liber

This book won the Best Leadership Book of the Year award in Sweden in 1993.

–        LQ-Leadership Intelligence. 2006. Liber

–        LQ-Leader Intelligence. How you can develop your leader intelligence with the help of your soul, heart and mind. 2013. Liber

The latter is currently being translated from Swedish to English, and an English version will be released in the near future.

Marika is part of a research group at University West in Trollhättan, Sweden, where her leadership model, Ledarskapets Intelligens (“The Intelligence of Leadership”), is being validated under the leadership of Anna M. Dåderman, Associate Professor PhD (Psychology), MD (Forensic Psychiatry).

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