In Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Acheive Their True Potential, author Shirzad Chamine has produced a delightful, easy-to-read book for reflection and self-improvement. By its focus on the use of questions for self-transformation in serving others effectively in work and life, this volume is a natural accompaniment to Serve to Lead.
Chamine advances and advocates the notion of a ‘Positive Intelligence Quotient’ (PQ). He envisions this as a spectrum ranging from High PQ (where your mind serves as your “friend”), and Low PQ (where your mind serves as your “enemy”). Chamine offers 10 “saboteurs” (such as “stickler,” “victim,” “pleaser”), and 5 “sage powers” (such as “empathize,” “explore,” “navigate”). The book then provides techniques and exercises intended to strengthen the higher PQ competencies, deter lower PQ tendencies, and enable measurement of progress.
My sense is that many readers will find value in the discussion of the “saboteurs” that undercut personal effectiveness and happiness. In my reading, Chapter 3, “Self–Assessment of the Ten Saboteurs,” is the heart of the book. The summary matrices and text on pp. 41-49 are strong and lend themselves to reflection and action.
The fundamental points relating to the “sage” qualities–basically, the virtues of Chamine’s “positive intelligence”–tend to emerge automatically when one identifies, isolates, and seeks to transcend the “saboteurs.”
The book includes significant reportage of studies relating to neuroscience and psychology, as well as a sprinkling of business anecdotes and a dollop of the author’s personal story. Some readers may find these aspects compelling; others may want to skip over much of this. It’s not really necessary to the book’s mission unless one seeks validation for the underlying expertise.
Where the book loses some steam in its attempts to quantify PQ. These sections may strike some readers as a bit of a stretch.
The sections of case studies are likely best approached by dipping into parts that appear relevant to specific readers. There are useful examples tucked away on issues such as effective listening.
This review takes pains to identify the differences in sections of the book, because I think the book is excellent. The introductory sections, including the delineation of “saboteur” habits of mind can hold value for most anyone. On the basis of those sections alone, I highly recommend Positive Intelligence. If you find additional points for use in other sections, all the better; if not, you’ve still got good value for enhancing your capacity to serve as a 21st century leader.
Shirzad Chamine | Positive Intelligence