The Next Level of Intelligence for 21st Century Leaders

buzz from Veta T. Richardson, Association of Corporate Counsel

"Dr. Arin Reeves is someone whom I have long considered the leading mind addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. But with this book, Dr. Reeves has transcended the legal profession to squarely establish herself among today's foremost executive management and international business thought leaders. In the 20th Century, Covey taught us the Seven Habits and Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman put us In Search of Excellence. But in the 21st Century, people like Malcolm Gladwell, James Surowiecki, and Jim Collins defined The Tipping Point, The Wisdom of Crowds, and Good To Great, and Dr. Reeves lights a pathway with The Next IQ The Next Level of Intelligence for 21st Century Leaders. And she does so with great stories and practical exercises to put the ideas into action. Great work, Arin!"

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From the pages...

The Next IQ Models for Individuals & Organizations


In leading the development of The NEXT IQ in organizations, it is critical to not focus on tolerance of differences or even celebration of differences. Tolerance and celebration are vocabulary vestiges from the Retro IQ that treat diverse perspectives as something that require sympathy. If someone offered you the opportunity to become smarter, would you offer your sympathies? Tolerate them?  Celebrate with them? Or would you thank the heck out of them and dig into the opportunity to maximize your ability to extract all you can from the opportunity?


That’s the shift from the Retro IQ to The NEXT IQ, and that is the cultural change that leaders must lead.


Let’s pause for a second to digest what this shift really means. This is the point in understanding The NEXT IQ where skepticism usually rears its curious head and raises its eyebrows in doubt. The Retro IQ is working fine for now, so what added value will The NEXT IQ provide?


Will The NEXT IQ actually change our output for the better?   Margaret A. Neale, professor of organization and dispute resolution at Stanford Graduate Business School, states that “the worst kind of group for an organization that wants to be innovative and creative is one in which everyone is alike and gets along too well.”2  In fact, when everyone gets along, people on the team may feel better but actually perform worse. For example, when new members of a team are similar to the previous members, the team reports a high level of satisfaction with the group’s productivity, but they perform the worst on a group problem-solving task. When the new members are different from the previous members, the group’s satisfaction with its productivity goes down, but its performance actually rises significantly.3  Neale stresses that what “feels good may not always reflect the performance of the team . . . In fact, teams with a very stable membership deteriorate in performance over time. . . .”4


It turns out, according to Neale, that “the mere presence of diversity you can see, such as a person’s race or gender, actually cues a team in that there’s likely to be differences of opinion. That cuing turns out to enhance the team’s ability to handle conflict, because members expect it and are not surprised when it surfaces.”5  Productive  conflict (conflict along the lines of intellectual conflict and a debate on ideas) makes teams perform better, but when differences lead to destructive conflict (conflict along identity lines that prevent/distort communication), the team’s performance suffers; furthermore, the more diversity there is in a group, the more positive impact the differences will have.6


The difference between productive conflict and destructive conflict:  inclusive leadership.


In the 21st century, innovation is the key to competitive success, and the intelligence required to be innovative flows from differences  in identities, interpretations, perspectives, and problem-solving modes,
but these differences can quickly transition from productivity enhancers to productivity detractors if leaders do not have the competencies to lead inclusively.


Once an organization’s leaders are committed and able to increase
their NEXT IQ by setting a mission and values for the organization that is consistent with encouraging and empowering everyone to align their actions with inclusive intelligence, Zone 2 can be reached. In Zone 2 all individuals are held accountable for these behaviors in order to create a truly inclusive work environment.


Individual Strategies to Prime for Change


Organizations can definitely do a lot to prime people to change, but
individuals have tremendous power to enact changes in small ways
that build up those change muscles into tools for innovation. We recommend our clients start working their change muscles by making the following small changes….


Organizational Strategies to Prime for Change


In almost every organization for which I’ve conducted assessments on the culture, the communication processes, leadership, and/or overall employee engagement, I have found the following to be true:
People want change (the noun) but they don’t want to change (the verb).


In order to prime any organization to start using The NEXT IQ at
an individual and collective level, the first step has to be to get people
to prepare to change, not just for change. Fortunately, our change muscles can be exercised and strengthened regularly so that when they are called upon to act, they are strong enough to do so. The following strategies allow people to exercise and strengthen their individual and collective change muscles…


The Next IQ Insights: Chapter 7


  • The NEXT IQ Model for Individuals explores the four sequential zones that an individual journeys in order to travel beyond the limitations of the Retro IQ to the intelligence available in the collective wisdom of The NEXT IQ.
  • The NEXT IQ Model for Organizations explores the three sequential zones that an organization has to journey to achieve the next level of organizational intelligence. The three zones in this model cover both what individuals, especially the organization’s leaders, have to do in each zone as well as the impact of those actions on the whole organization.
  • The Netflix competition example provides an illustration of how an organization can become more intelligent by not limiting where and how it gets its intelligence and also by viewing competitors as collaborators.


Although the majority of individuals and organizations want positive change, they resist the act of changing. The Change Is Also a Verb exercises for individuals and organizations offer concrete tools to prime for change (the verb).


The Next IQ Actions: Chapter 7


  • Implement the Change Is Also a Verb exercises for individuals and note what happens to your attention levels, your observation skills, and your thought patterns, especially as you implement the daily and weekly suggestions.
  • Explore the Change Is Also a Verb exercises for organizations and note what happens to team dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and collective problem-solving strategies. Are people learning new things about each other? Do different people speak up in different contexts? Have informal “water cooler” conversations shifted?