What defines senior leadership success

I’m interested in how you develop high performing teams hence thought I’d put pen to paper on what I believe is important for senior leadership success (the following applies to other roles though the weighting will differ e.g. if it’s a specialist role then you might replace Π with T-shaped² for instance).

As a result I’ve developed the above formula/ summary; here goes with the explanation:

IQ + Π

Clearly a leaders Intelligent Quotient (IQ) should matter though in senior leaders it should also be coupled with a movement away from being “T-shaped” towards being “pi-shaped” (Π)

“T-shaped people” have been popularised in areas such as digital marketing over the past few years and basically means T shaped people have a specific expertise where they go really deep (e.g. SEO, PPC, data analytics, etc), but they also have broad interest and sufficiently useful surface-level skills across many other adjacent disciplines e.g. in all digital media.

On the other hand Π shaped marketers have a broad base of knowledge in all areas, yet capabilities in both ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain’ disciplines. They are both analytical and data-driven, yet understand brands, storytelling and experiential marketing.


Emotional Quotient (EQ; also called EI) measures the Emotional Intelligence skills required to better understand, empathise and negotiate with others.

Key factors in EQ include self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills; very much around our interaction with other people.


High Passion, Perseverance, Curiosity & Grit Quotient (summarised as PQ).

Thomas Friedman in his book “Thank you for Being Late” coined the Passion and Curiosity elements whilst Angela Lee Duckworth in her extensive research formed similar conclusions and spoke of Passion, Perseverance and Grit.

To succeed we need to think more like start-ups; always look forward, live as a paranoid optimist, be curious about the next thing, persevere through the difficult times and showcase Grit.

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