The Grey Chronicles


The Right Stuff, 4

Justin Menkes: Executive Intelligence : What All Great Leaders HaveThis continues yesterday’s post regarding Justin Menkes’ 4-section 15-chapter book, Executive Intelligence, (2005). Previously, this blog discussed how Executive Intelligence can be measured. The last section explains how Executive Intelligence [EI] can be taught.

Using the traditional methods of intelligence testing, assessment of Executive Intelligence would prove to be difficult. The interview method proposed by Menkes “uses pointed questions to explore the candidate’s conclusions and the thinking that led to them.” The uniqueness of Executive Intelligence measurement is shown through:

“Candidates must solve problems in a real-time conversational setting, much as executives do on the job, and explain the reasoning for their actions. No question can be answered with a simple, “This is what I would do . . .” Instead, a candidate must explain “why” they would take a certain course of action. Through this exercise they reveal the quality of their thinking skills, which is, after all, at the heart of the Executive Intelligence evaluation.”

Menkes’ book illustrates two examples for each of the three measurable factors of Executive Intelligence: Tasks, People and Self. Using realistic work scenarios, intelligence questions call for the use of certain cognitive skills in order to solve problems. For each question the candidate analyzes the situation, draws a conclusion, and justifies his or her reasoning. The examples of Executive Intelligence assessment mock interviews illustrate the “right or wrong” manner of tackling the questions and highlight the perceived flaws of the candidates’ response/s or the lack of cognitive skills in answering the questions asked.

The best candidates demonstrate a facility for seeking out and using information or criticism that suggests a way of improving their own thinking or behavior. Similar to those “purveyors of new technology” who were adept to differentiating between substantive criticisms and baseless attacks, candidates with clear thinking succeed in tackling these intelligence questions, as well as the knowledge ones.

Traditional schools, Menkes lamented, are prone to training students to rote recitation of knowledge, rather than teach them how to skillfully process that information. Thus, he suggests:

“Improving one’s Executive Intelligence is a demanding and ongoing process, and it requires participation in active, intense discussions. Executive Intelligence is best taught using a Socratic method not unlike that used in law schools. It calls for a small-group environment and a trained facilitator.”


Aside from being mind-boggling, Menkes’ book on Executive Intelligence, (2005) is both a page-turner, not unlike the spy novels I voraciously read growing up, and an eye-opener. This book should be a REQUIRED reading for all supervisory personnel, management trainees, students of management courses, or anyone dreaming of rising up the management ladder. For those who are presently occupying managerial positions, especially the unaware or self-confessed micromanagers, this book is a MUST! In the long-run, the insights one gains from Menkes’ treatise would handsomely pay-off the time spent reading and grasping the key concepts it offers. Acknowledging that being a manager is not an easy task, but being one need not mean one has a monopoly of knowledge and intelligence.

Previously, The Grey Chronicles asked: Are We What We Read? and wrote Knowledge Is NOT Wisdom, or an attempt at satire Words as Numbers, among other posts on management, and Menkes encapsulated similar thoughts in one extensively-researched book. Both my U.P. scholar-sisters say: “Knowledge can be easily acquired. Intelligence is primarily genetic,” and Menkes would surely agree with them. I wish I had discovered the book earlier, i.e., prior to those previous posts. The former bolstered most of the arguments presented in the latter. Reading one good book on management and memorizing quotable quotes from it, one neither becomes an expert, as some people I know are prone to do; nor one becomes the book’s apostle, which I never intended to be. Maybe someday, in all my illusions of grandeur, I could write one with a focus on Philippine management style.

In retrospect, moreover, the applicability of the Executive Intelligence concepts are endless: in our respective resumes, even cover letters to job applications, or in simple “twits” for those numerous social networking sites. For resumes, the job objectives could be rephrased so that it would include those cognitive skills that most employers are looking for. Instead of the usual chronological narrative of specific work experiences and highlights of our achievements, job application letters could also include a short paragraph on Tasks, People and Self. Likewise, in social networking—especially professional-linkage sites like LinkedIn or Pitch Your Talent, the factors of EI could be subtly integrated to our individual posts or comments.

Unfortunately, in all job interviews I had attended, I have yet to encounter an interviewers panel asking intelligence questions. Most of them, probably alumni of the same traditional school as I was, only asked a litany of scholastic accomplishments, highlights of actual work experiences, and the like—information typically found in a printed C.V./Resume, but failed to engage me in some reflective thought, similar to Menkes’ examples of EI interviews.

Got to go! Doing as I preach, I am now revising my C.V. and resume! Maybe in the near future, I might just get what I wish for.


Menkes, Justin (2005). Executive Intelligence : What All Great Leaders Have. Executive Intelligence Group. New York: Perfect Bound, 2005. xx, 312pp. back to text

The post’s title is based on the inside story of the first seven astronauts, in a novel by Wolfe, Tom (1979). The Right Stuff. New York: Picador, 1979. p. 448. back to text

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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