Leadership Traits - IQ Matters

Leadership Traits: Intelligence

Leadership requires intelligence, yes, the plain old IQ kind. Ram Charam recently used the term “intellectual bandwidth.” Leadership, particularly during change, requires several components of intelligence: IQ, mental complexity and complex time span.

While it has been popular to talk types of intelligence, as yet, instruments that establish other “intelligences” as separate artifacts from IQ and personality are not sufficiently validated to use other than as feedback tools.

What we know is:

  • Intelligence and leadership effectiveness are correlated particularly for complex tasks
  • Time span is an aspect of leadership ability that should be considered when succession planning. The length of time span a leader must effectively plan for lengthens as one moves up the hierarchy. While supervisors may need a span of weeks to months, “C” suite leaders must be able to span one or more decades
  • Relationships and emotions are important in leadership but the popularly termed "emotional intelligence" may or may not exist as a mental artifact separate from the combination of IQ and personality.

Why IQ Matters

Think about this one from your own experience. How would you feel if it were clear that your boss didn't understand the complexities of the business. Suppose you had to constantly simplify and explain things to the boss. It would get old fast and you would probably think you'd make a better boss than the person with the job. And that might be true.

Employees with greater intelligence and/or a  longer time horizon for mapping out consequences of actions are often frustrated working for a boss who can't keep up. These employees with either post within the organization for a different job, or just leave and take their intelligence with them.

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