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Growth Mindset

The Essential Elements of an Effective Leadership Development Program

Leadership Development with PQ

Published May 24, 2023
by Positive Intelligence

Global organizations spend more than $60 billion annually on leadership development programs.

Leadership development can have a substantial positive impact on organizations and employees. When done well, leadership development initiatives drive personal growth, provide meaning and purpose in life and work, reduce stress, and significantly boost mental health and wellbeing. An effective program fosters engagement and empowers leaders to support their teams and organizations better.

Unfortunately, many organizations do not realize the true potential of leadership development programs. Though the world has changed drastically, most leadership styles have not evolved. Traditional methods frustrate leaders and provide limited and ineffective tools. In turn, this can leave employees feeling criticized, discouraged, and disengaged.

One estimate found that just 10% of spending on corporate leadership training delivers concrete results.

Why do so many leadership development initiatives fail? They need one essential element that fosters a more engaged, collaborative, and high-performing work environment — mental fitness.

What makes an effective leader in today’s workplace?

What it means to be a great leader changes — and becomes more complex — as organizations and society evolve. Today’s leaders must be authentic, empathetic, and adaptable to drive impact. To build and nurture a positive company culture, leaders must implement these four important practices:

1. Interact with employees and exemplify core values

2. Communicate directly and often

3. Invest in team growth to build shared perspectives

4. Elevate emotional intelligence through mental fitness practice

The game-changing impact of mental fitness on leadership development

The source of leadership development problems is not a lack of training or skills but a lack of mental fitness. You can climb steep hills without physical stress if you’re physically fit. Similarly, you can handle life’s challenges without mental stress or negative emotions if you’re mentally fit.

Neuroscience and behavior management breakthroughs reveal that mental fitness practice is a proven process for consistently bringing out the best in people and boosting resilience among team members. Leaders can drive positive change within their teams and organizations by understanding and harnessing the power of mental fitness.

6 ways mental fitness supports leadership development

1. Emotional intelligence (EQ)

Mental fitness helps leaders develop EQ by improving self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. The Positive Intelligence® (PQ) Program for mental fitness improves 17 out of 18 EQ competencies.

2. Resilience

Mental fitness helps leaders develop resilience to overcome numerous challenges and setbacks and become stronger. Resilient leaders can inspire and motivate their team and lead by example during tough times.

3. Communication

Mental fitness helps leaders develop strong communication skills by improving their ability to listen actively, express themselves clearly and persuasively, and manage conflicts.

4. Decision making

Mentally fit leaders are more likely to make sound decisions based on rational thinking, evidence-based analysis, intuition, and a long-term perspective.

5. Innovation and adaptability

Leaders who think creatively and develop innovative solutions are better equipped to solve problems and adapt to changing situations.

6. Focus

Mental fitness helps leaders improve their ability to focus and concentrate on essential tasks. Leaders who can maintain their focus and prioritize their work can better manage their time and make effective decisions.

Build mental fitness with Positive Intelligence

PQ (short for Positive Intelligence Quotient) is the measure of your mental fitness. It’s the best predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential. Your PQ score reveals your mental fitness level by measuring the strength of your positive mental muscles versus the negative.

The PQ Program is a scalable and sustainable way to enable every team member to build mental fitness and achieve optimal success as an organization.

The PQ Program is based on extensive factor analysis and neuroscience research summarized in the New York Times bestselling book Positive Intelligence as well as independently-produced research white papers. The factor analysis research reveals the 10 negative factors (Saboteurs) that sabotage performance, wellness, and relationships and the five positive factors (Sage Powers) for optimal performance, wellbeing, and relationships.

You build a foundation of mental fitness by strengthening the three critical mental muscles:

1. The Self-Command Muscle for developing greater command over your mind

2. The Saboteur Interceptor Muscle for dismissing negative thought patterns 

3. The Sage Muscle for converting challenges into opportunities

This practice rewires the neural pathways, which are typically pre-programmed for negative (Saboteur) responses, to generate positive (Sage) responses.

Building mental fitness increases productivity, resilience, team collaboration, and individual wellbeing while establishing a growth mindset across an organization.

Elevate your organization’s EQ with PQ

Most attempts at positive change fail because we stop at insight and don’t build habits. Sustained change towards a more positive mind requires laying down neural pathways to form new habits through consistent daily practice. And that’s what the PQ Program empowers you to do.

The PQ Program delivers mental fitness training to help professionals and their teams achieve their full potential for performance and happiness through 15 minutes a day of app-guided practice. 

To enable sustained change, the PQ Program uses an app to systematically build the three foundational pillars of mental fitness over six weeks, forming lasting new mental habits.

As a result, within six weeks, PQ Program participants report impressive improvements in all areas of performance, wellbeing, and relationships, with a corresponding improvement in resilience. Areas of improvement include:

Emotional intelligence

Develop 17 of the 18 EQ competencies by weakening your Saboteurs and strengthening your Self-Command and 5 Sage Powers.

Conflict management

Discover how your specific Saboteurs fuel your conflicts. Learn to apply each of the 5 Sage Powers to shift from conflict to win/win solutions, even in the most challenging situations.


Discover how your specific Saboteurs sabotage creativity in yourself and others. Learn how to activate and access the deep wisdom of the Sage brain during solo or group activities.


Challenge outmoded Saboteur-led assumptions about how to lead. Learn the leadership model that brings out the best Sage qualities in yourself and others.


Every Saboteur negatively impacts performance. Develop a personalized performance plan using your Self-Command and Sage Powers for optimal productivity.

What makes the PQ Program different?

Focuses on habit formation

Most training results in short-lived improvements. The PQ Program focuses on building neural pathways that form lasting new habits for sustained results.

Treats root causes, not symptoms

The PQ Program’s factor analysis research has revealed the foundational root-level enablers and disablers of optimal performance and wellbeing. PQ rewires the brain at the root cause level.

Develops all three core muscles

Meditation only focuses on Self-Command, which is why it is not a complete solution. Mental fitness requires three core muscles: Saboteur Interceptor, Self-Command, and Sage.

Offers one operating system, multiple applications

The PQ Program facilitates a core operating system of the mind that can run a massive variety of work and life applications — one simple operating system with many applications.

Provides a platform for ongoing growth

Similar to physical fitness, mental fitness is not short-term training. After the initial six-week foundation, the PQ app ensures continued growth through various work and life applications.

Delivers research-based, measurable results

Participants report improvements in the following areas after only six weeks of mental fitness training through PQ*:

  • 93% have strengthened their emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • 91% manage stress better
  • 90% use mental and emotional energy more effectively
  • 84% handle personal relationship conflicts better
  • 72% are better at coaching and inspiring others

*Based on survey results from a cohort of >2000 Positive Intelligence Program participants after six weeks of mental fitness training.

Mental fitness training is a powerful personal and organizational growth tool

Effective leadership has never been more crucial in today’s rapidly-changing work environment. Incorporating mental fitness training into a leadership approach can drive positive change, enhance performance, and create a more inclusive and supportive workplace.

See what participants have to say about the PQ Program for leadership development:

“I much appreciated the pragmatism and simplicity of PQ. PQ provides a deeply effective ‘toolbox’ to address entrenched bias and leverage our own strengths to drive happy performance for individuals and teams. It’s leadership development in action, not just words.”

—Cedric L., Nestle

Positive Intelligence is a training I would highly recommend to every leader. It gave me the space to really learn and understand more about myself; it teaches you how to cope with different obstacles in a way that is catered to your needs and Saboteurs.”

—Courtney P., Indeed

This was a fascinating exploration of self. As a leader of a 60-person team, I learned some hard truths about myself … how I show up impacts myself, my clients, and my peers. I highly recommend this program for high-performing teams looking to bring their whole selves to the professional space.”

—Malina K., The Turn Lab

PQ® Score Assessment

Discover your PQ® Score, the measure of your mental fitness. Based on Shirzad Chamine’s New York Times bestselling book and Stanford lectures.

Take the Assessment
Positive vs negative thoughts

Improve Mental Health at Work

If you’re not thinking about the mental fitness of your colleagues and teams, you need to be. Learn how to combat the mental health crisis, champion employee happiness, and boost productivity in your workplace.

Download the E-book