IQ, EQ,… OQ?

Many of us in the helping professions were encouraged when the concept of EQ, or emotional intelligence, was recognized as a valid way of understanding why some individuals were successful and others weren’t despite high IQ’s. Daniel Goldman’s research on EQ brought an entirely new perspective to understanding success in life. There is now a new measuring stick, relating to the capability of an organization to create, foster and manage organizational competencies relevant to its mission. This is organizational intelligence, or OQ.

My friend Scott has a good OQ. He pastors a large church in the southeast Phoenix metro area that has grown very solidly for a number of years. If you talk to him about church health, growth, change or even church planting, he will offer sound, practical and wise organizational and strategic advice. He knows how organizations, especially churches, work and what to do when they don’t. I think of him as my organizational intelligence expert. His church has three campuses with an attendance of over 5,000 per weekend. He has done this in great part by thoughtful and intentional planning and wisdom. Another friend with a high OQ in South Africa has built a mega-church system of 20,000 congregants per weekend with churches all over the city.

I contrast my OQ friends with other church leaders who are highly dynamic and motivating speakers but not necessarily gifted at organizing and running a complex organization. They are visionaries and great communicators who paint inspiring pictures of the ideal future that God wants for His people. Often enamored with ideas, they touch your heart, make you think and can often make you laugh. Carl George in his meta-church model called them “high attractability” individuals. People love to come and hear them speak.

But the question remains: What does it take to lead a healthy, growing church — a church that attracts people, helps them experience God, challenges them with Biblical insight and knowledge, transforms them into the image of Christ, makes them feel cared for and motivates them to reach out and help others? That sounds like a job for a super-pastor!

The truth of the matter is that it takes more than one kind of gifting, more than one type of person to effectively lead a thriving ministry. We can readily see the need for inspirational speakers on Sunday morning. However, until recently few churches have realized the necessity of leaders with high organizational intelligence. What has changed is the growing knowledge that individuals with organizational intelligence are usually different than those with high public motivational gifts. They are the expert implementors and strategists. The ones who know how to take vision and create strategic objectives and infrastructures than work. They are able to see the ‘what-to’ and ‘how-to’ of the vision or idea.

Again, it’s not an either/or situation; It takes the partnership of visionary leaders and organizational leaders with high OQ’s for healthy church growth, impact and vitality. This makes team leadership essential since rarely is a leader both a gifted and motivational speaker and great organizational leader.

Take a few moments and consider your strengths. Maybe you are more visionary and idea-focused. Or possibly you thrive more on the implementation side.


Do most of the characteristics below describe you?

If so, you may be a leader with higher than average OQ:
  • Do you more naturally think of how to get a task done, rather than what you want to tell the congregation on Sunday?
  • Do you enjoy thinking through strategies for implementation of an idea, rather than coming up with the idea?
  • Do you find enjoyment working on organization and infrastructure?
  • Would you rather design and implement a program that reaches a thousand instead of preaching to a thousand?
  • Are you good at recruiting, selecting and training others?
  • Do you think in terms of models, formats and templates?
  • Are you concerned about the accuracy of your work?
  • Do you pay attention to details and outcomes?
  • Do you easily focus on the few things that matter: attainable, measurable goals and payoffs?
  • Do you like policies, procedures, and systems?
  • Is it important to you to have the right people, doing the right thing, in their right place?
  • Do you expect and like order, discipline and efficiency?
Rev. Al Ells M.C.

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