Monday, 16 August 2010

W.J. REDDIN’S "3D MODEL" AND INTELLIGENCE. Alonso Gil Salinas. August 2010.

Alonso Gil Salinas.
August 2010

In this brief note, I first analyze the managerial skills that the 3D model assumes a manager needs to be effective; then, I analyze the concept of intelligence in relationship with those skills; and finally, I end up with some conclusions.


• The "3D Model" is a situational leadership model which, as such, is based on behaviour. It is a model that describes the behaviour that a manager must follow in order to achieve his job, which is to be effective. The model is essentially based on the fact that the use of the appropriate behaviours can be learned. That is, managers are not born with such skills. In fact, that is the reason why managers can be "trained in leadership."

• The model includes only two types of behaviour (task orientation and relationships orientation), which are not mutually exclusive. Throughout these two types of behaviour, the model establishes some "managerial styles" that describe how managers face "a situation" in their environment.

• The fundamental feature of the model is that in order for a manager to be effective, the style used should be the appropriate one for the situation that is faced.

• So an essential premise is the skill to properly assess a situation, in order that a manager can choose either the right style; or, alternatively, modify the situation so that a default style can be the appropriate.

• It is indispensable to adequately size up a situation, because no matter how skillful the manager may be to behave in one way or another, or to change the scenario he is facing, if the assessment of the situation is wrong, he will be "shooting in the dark" and will hardly find the consistent style. In the model, this is called "situational sensitivity".

• To determine the criterion to judge whether "a situation is correctly assessed" is analogous to judge whether "someone is objective when assessing a situation". This sounds a bit complicated, but it is not. It is a matter of simple statistics. Broadly speaking, if the vast majority of a group of people involved in the assessment of a situation "read it" it in a specific way, and one person in particular simply does not read it that way, then we conclude that such person "is not sizing up the situation objectively". Nevertheless, notice the fact that value judgments about the objectivity of a group of people, is a function of value judgments about those individuals themselves.

• As a starting point, it is logical to assume that in order to be able to be objective about a situation; a manager must be objective about himself. That is, he must be able to identify the impact of his own behaviour on "others." In the Reddin’s model context, this is known as "style awareness".


• We could consider "style awareness" as a very special case of an essentially human characteristic known as "self-awareness". In the main, self-awareness is the explicit understanding or consciousness of our own existence (though it is a concept that can be greatly refined depending on the context in which it is used). In its essence, it is a very elusive and controversial piece of evidence: Nobody knows why is it that "we know that we exist"… but it is a fact. We sort of "operate" on two channels simultaneously, one existing and conducting ourselves as human beings, and another one, being conscious precisely of that.

• Now, if we put this concept in the behavioural context, we could circumscribe it as "the consciousness of the impact of our behaviour on other people". Furthermore, if we are managers and have previously described the types of behaviour we can encompass by means of a model, we find the "style awareness" aforementioned. The essence of this characteristic is that we can behave and judge our behaviour at the same time. Despite the widespread controversy about "why is it that we can do it" or "how is it that we do it," the fact is that ... we do it ... That mere fact is the bottom line of the subject.

• True, not everyone does it the same way. Not everyone has the same degree of "objectivity" in judging the impact of their behaviour on others. Though, it should be stressed again, it is something that can be learned and developed over time.

• But, regarding the learning subject, not everything about our intellectual skills can be learned, there is a broad consensus about the fact that some of our capacities are inherited and some of them are learned. One way of describing this, is the famous "Nature versus Nurture" continuum. But on the other hand, a good part of such consensus is lost when trying to classify specific skills or abilities in the continuum.

• Nevertheless, extensive research exists on the fact that the genetic part of our intellectual capacity, traditionally known simply as "intelligence" and usually assessed by means of the "intellectual quotient” (IQ), is the main determinant or predictor of the future "success" of a human being. It is also accepted that it stabilizes during childhood, and that it remains virtually unchanged throughout our lives.

• Apparently, situational leadership models have little to do with "intelligence", since they are based on behaviours that can be learned; and, what the IQ measures, is something we are essentially born with.

• However, an alternative to encompass all the intellectual capacity of the human being in a single item has been the broadening of the concept of intelligence. Howard Gardner, in 1983, was the first to introduce a theory of "multiple intelligences" so he could comprise (or confuse, some purists would say...) all the brainpower human beings have in a single model. His original model has seven different types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

• But the idea has changed considerably: Today there is a non-traditional concept of intelligence even more widespread than Gardner’s: The model of "Emotional Intelligence" of Daniel Goleman. The emotional intelligence model comprises four “dimensions” which can be summarized as follows: self-awareness: the skill to read our own emotions and recognize their impact on others; self-management: the skill to control our own emotions and impulses, and to adapt to changing circumstances; social awareness: the skill to sense other’s emotions, understanding social and organizational networks; and relationship management: the skill to inspire, influence and develop others.

• The word "emotion" comes from the Latin word "emovere" which means to move, to change. It is the impulse that leads to change. Assuming this concept in the context of behaviour, we could say that it is precisely the impulse that leads to a change in behaviour, that when perceiving a situation, "we grasp it", "we feel something", then we asses it, and that's what makes us behave in one way or another.

• It is not difficult to see in the four dimensions of Daniel Goleman, the essence of the managerial skills that Reddin's model assumes a manager needs to be effective: The skill to read the impact of our behaviour on others, the skill to adapt to changing situations, the skill to read situations, and finally, the skill to influence (or change) situations.

• The immemorial prayer Reddin adopts as "The Situationist’s Prayer": "God, give me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other", states also basically the same… looks like there’s nothing new under the sun.

• Goleman’s proponents claim that when analyzing which are the personal skills that drive "outstanding performance" in organizations, the proportion corresponding to what the IQ measures, contribute only to about 10 to 20% of such performance; and, respectively, the ones included in what the emotional intelligence measures (EQ) contribute to the rest of the factors which constitute the remaining 80 to 90%.

• So, we can observe that the skills the 3D model assumes a manager needs to be effective, are largely coincident with the skills that Goleman say, drive outstanding performance in organizations. Skills that are essentially learned.


• Now, with so much research confirming that the IQ of a person is maybe the best predictor of his "success in life”, how comes that both, Reddin and Goleman’s models put forward something so counterintuitive. That is, how is it possible that the IQ has so little to do with the "outstanding performance" (or effectiveness) of a manager?

• The truth is that indeed, the IQ has a lot to do with it, and both models do not pose the contrary. What happens is that both models consider the IQ in a specific context, a given context in which it doesn’t constitute a "strategic variable". A strategic variable is one which entails a comparative advantage over a competitor. So, what happens if a manager works in a context in which the rest of the people who interacts with him are "more or less equally intelligent (IQ)" than him? It happens that the IQ will explain a very little difference in performance compared to other variables. Variables which could very well be the skills mentioned by Reddin or Goleman.

• It is a fact that for different reasons, as for instance, type of family, formal education, or socioeconomic background; society ends up placing people in specific settings integrated by "very similar" individuals in terms of their IQ level. Consider, for example, that at one end, it is virtually impossible to come across a work context integrated by people with an above average IQ interacting with, say, "functionally illiterate" individuals. That is, in general, individuals work competing and cooperating with each other, in layers and subsets of people so similar in IQ, as for such factor not to be "noticed a lot." It would be "more noticed", if the group we were analyzing were extended to people no longer having to interact so directly with each other, a bigger portion of population.

• It is logical then to expect that in the managerial context, "the outstanding performance of a manager" is very little explained by differences in IQ (10 to 20% according to Goleman).

• Obviously, the IQ is not the only variable that can be analyzed from the strategic point of view. The approach can be generalized to any "predictor of success" in whatever context it is set out. Let’s turn to a very different scenario, and consider, for instance, the "beauty of a young woman" who decides to base her future "success in the show business" in such attribute. By the enormous failure rate of women who try it and end up as very beautiful, but average citizens in terms of "success", we can conclude that those who made it must have had something more important than "beauty" in the competitive context they participated. Maybe ... intelligence (emotional?). Furthermore, that "something" could have also been a factor as mundane as luck. Chance also counts. If we add "chance" to the equation that describes "success" as a function of IQ and EQ, these variables could be further diluted. This is a sort of common sense conclusion: If you are born in the right place in the right family (preferably of a medium-high social level) and at the right time, it will always help...

• But let's finish returning to the management context. If somebody raises the question: How does the Reddin model consider the intelligence matter? The answer is simple: Nowadays there is a generalized concept of intelligence which divides it into two main components, the one corresponding to what the intelligence quotient (IQ) measures, and the so-called emotional intelligence (EQ). Regarding the emotional intelligence, the skills which comprise it, are essentially the same skills Reddin’s model assumes as necessary for a manager to be effective. And with respect to what the IQ measures, whatever we are born with gradually stabilizes during childhood and generally changes little thereafter. So there is no way or "model" that can significatively change it. On the other hand, it could be advanced that the development of the managerial skills assumed by Reddin’s model, allows for the maximization of a manager’s capability to be effective, regardless of the particular level of his IQ, and that this is what really matters and makes a significant difference in the end.

• From this point on, we can expand with our explanation around the question "depending on the situation" …


Reddin, William J. Managerial Effectiveness. New York: Mc Graw-Hill, Inc. 1970.

Gardner, Howard. "Intelligence in Seven Steps" New Horizons for Learning. 1991.

Various authors. “Mainstream Science on Intelligence”. The Wall Street Journal 13 December 1994.

Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. London: Bloomsbury Pub. Plc. 1995.

Goleman, Daniel; Boyatzis, Richard and McKee, Annie. Primal Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. 2002.

Pinker, Steven “Why nature & nurture won’t go away”. Daedalus. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Fall 2004.


No comments:

Post a Comment