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Leadership Management

Do Highly Intelligent People Make Bad Leaders?

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There are various qualities that define a good leader. They include:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Critical thinking
  • The ability to negotiate and understand issues
  • Drive
  • An expectation of success

The question of whether a leader should be a super-brilliant intellect have spurred a heated debate in online and offline platforms, however, with some studies asserting that intelligence could be a hindrance to good leadership.

That said, can being highly intelligent make you a bad leader? Do the brightest individuals make less effective leaders than their less intelligent counterparts? Let’s dive into the issue at hand…

There’s No I in Team

Great leaders practice teamwork in decision-making, and in the overall achievement of goals set. Most people have found that highly intelligent leaders have a hard time working in this type of framework, however.

Often times, these types of individuals feel like they outsmart every other person in the group, which means they end up dictating terms instead of listening to differing opinions and ideas for consideration. While a smart leader may be the wisest idea in the group, group members may have a more practical solution for the issue at hand, and one that can attain more productivity.

Intelligence Can Benefit Leadership to a Certain Degree

Presumably, a leader should possess more intelligence than the rest of the team he/she is to guide them on what to do and how to do it. Even so, philosophers and researchers agree to this notion partially, arguing that it does not always apply to all level of intelligence.

Problem-Solving Skills

One of the primary roles of a leadership position involves coming up with workable solutions as problems arise. This requires analyzing the problem and developing solutions to address it. The challenge for highly intelligent leaders is that they often devise very sophisticated ways of doing things. Although they have an in-depth knowledge base of how best a system should run, they may not be the best at getting group buy-in, which can alienate people.

Characteristics of Great Leaders

There are many requirements and skill sets that would presumably make for an excellent leader, including intelligence. And while some may argue that highly intelligent people might not make for the best leaders, it’s important to note that you cannot rule out the capability of adaptive abilities. Being smart has an advantage of high analytical and critical abilities, which means that if so inclined, someone can easily find a way to adapt to different behaviors to become a great leader.

Ultimately, anyone can become a leader.  After all, leaders aren’t born, they’re made. It’s essential that anyone seeking a leadership position understand that the people you intend to lead expect you to be smart, but not to the point where your intelligence overpowers your rationale, especially as pertains to decision making, negotiating and working with the entire team.

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