25 4

LINK Being too intelligent might make you a less effective leader | World Economic Forum

Why?? I'd be interested to hear what you all think about this.

Faithless1 7 July 11

Post a comment Reply Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


We need more intelligent leaders not less. Just take Donald Trump as a case in point. I suppose you could point out that Obama was a very intelligent guy but wasn’t very effective, but that was due more to the obdurance and lack of cooperation of republicans than any fault of his.


The ruling class run the world. That's the reality.

They use politicians who help maintain the lie of 'democracy' and enable imperialism through wars or economic strategies. All roads lead to the ruling class.

Your statement extends well beyond the scope and scale of the article, but I couldn't agree more. The names and banners have changed but corporate neo feudalism isn't really any different from regular feudalism.


"One of the reasons may be that very clever people sometimes fail to communicate clearly enough or explain complex tasks. They may also struggle to see what others find challenging. And if a manager comes across as too intellectual, it may make the leader appear aloof or unapproachable."

There's your answer. The Sheldon Cooper Effect.

Otherwise known as Expertise Syndrome. Where someone cannot explain the basic concepts because they massively overestimate the audience's level of understanding.


Perhaps a less effective leader in a democratic government because the elected representative is supposed to have about the same IQ as the average of the mob. The IQ of a mob is said to be less than that of its dumbest member, so the average would seem a relative genius.

I adore Richard Feynman's view on politics and politicians. The one who gets elected is the one who always instantly knows the answer to every single question, ie. they never think. If a genius politician was asked a question, s/he would likely say 'well actually I don't know, but I have the tools to be able to find out'. Such a person will never get elected because the mob won't vote for someone who isn't 100% bravado.


Intelligence is necessary in a leader but research indicates that a leaders intellectual ability should not differ too much from that of the subordinates. If the leaders IQ is very different from that of the followers, it can have a counterproductive impact on leadership. People want to think their leader is smart but not too smart. Now, emotional intelligence is a different story. People want their leader to have high emotional intelligence. The current leader of the US has a lower IQ and no emotional intelligence.

@Faithless1 not necessarily. How often have you had a hand in picking your boss? When was the last time policy change occurred on your job and you were instrumental? Unless you’re the leader and in charge you don’t get a say. And if the only leader you’re referring to is the Cheeto in charge then well...

@Faithless1 Oh yes there are several types of leaders and several different styles of leadership. There's transformational leadership, authentic leadership, servant leadership, adaptive, and team. Plus all the different approaches such as trait, psychodnamic, skills, behavioral, and situational. There's a science behind effective leadership.


I have been put in that position more times than I cared for. If you possess a knack for knowing what to do in certain situations, people tell you that you're a leader but it's a whole 'nother story when you actually attempt it. I think leaders are figureheads that carry responsibilities we should all share.


Meh, I'm leery. Setting aside my aversion to the leader/follower dynamic for a moment, I noted that the study seemed to focus mostly on IQ as the measure of intelligence. But isn't intelligence a rather subjective thing? People are always saying you can be intelligent yet lack any common sense whatsoever. How do you define intelligence? How do you quantify it?


The reason we are in this fix is because of the dynamics of ignorance, and the inabilities of those persons who do not know how ignorant they are. We have a country run by lawyers not Academics. And truly only the Polymaths should be in positions of Great Importance or advisory positions.

Etre Level 7 July 11, 2018

See Plato's Republic for an in depth discussion of the various hierarchies


Have it.


The article seems well documented and makes some sense. However the measurement techniques talked about might be suspect for their objectivity as assessment tools. What is the I Q of actual sussessfull leaders?

It largely seems to be about the relative difference between the leader and the subordinate group, as opposed to any specific number or range of numbers, but given that it tries to establish 'average intelligence' between 90-100, the range for a 'successful leader' is like 105 - 125.

You're right, it's a very subjective model and that lack of objective data framework is one of the reasons social science catches so much shade from the hard sciences. But, human interaction, especially group dynamics, involve so many non-reducible or non-excludable variables, that it becomes difficult to create adequately objective models to be scientifically conclusive.


If this is the article I read a few months ago, it largely comes down to communication issues between people with an IQ disparity of more than 30-50 points. A leader with an IQ more than 140 will likely have problems communicating their ideas in a way that their subordinate pool averaging about 100 will easily understand, or it causes problems with fundamental capacity for more basic kinds of understanding and connecting. Leaders wit an IQ 15-30 points higher than the subordinate pool will not have this problem with as high a frequency. It also cites this communication issue as one reason a lot of 'middle-mensans' (people with IQs between like 130 and 160 give or take) often tend to have problems being successful in business or group endeavors, they aren't 'normal' enough to connect with their subordinates but not 'extremely exceptional' enough to overcome connection problems with sheer individual brilliance.


Being too intelligent might make you a less effective RIGHT WING leader.

Yes, or far left wing also.


That's a relief, the country's in good hands afterall! ?


That study is based on IQ, but IQ is bullshit. Intelligence is an incredibly complex and multi-faceted (and not to mention hard to define) property of brains, and I don't trust any "measure" that boils all that down to a single number.


I think it's the lack of cognitive dissonance and not being too concerned over making decisions that impact people negatively. There's an extraordinarily high percentage of CEOs who test for sociopathy. I think this comes hand in hand with the largest scope of decision-making.

Highly intelligent people have too much doubt.


Intelligence is not necessarily the best tool to have in all circumstances. It might be natural to assume otherwise, but other qualities like compassion and the ability to work with people can be more helpful. You also have to explain exactly what is meant by ‘intelligence’ as there are many aspect to that concept alone.


Interesting topic.

vmedel Level 6 July 11, 2018

It isn’t being “too intelligent”. It is about the group that’s is being led. Without going to the link, I assume this is about the Stanford study that shows more than a 1.2 standard deviation from the group mean causes a decline in ability to communicate and lead.

Often in my experience this is a problem that can be overcome, but there is a certain personality type that sometimes goes hand in hand with those that want to be in a leadership role that doesn’t let them try to “lower themselves” in order to be understood. I teach elementary school and some of the most intelligent people I know will be on their knees talking with an age appropriate vocabulary and reach the young kids, but then I have seen “experts” try to speak to our kids and talk over their heads and frankly are terrified of 6 year olds. The ability to adapt and having an innate empathy is what I say is important here, it really has nothing to do with a raw deviation from the mean in intelligence if you know what you are doing.

PDF Level 5 July 11, 2018

Talking from what little experience I have, say if there was a question the answer to which came to my mind instantly whereas it wasn't so straightforward to a colleague, it is very difficult to explain how I got the answer because it almost came naturally to me.
Extend this to work tasks where the person in the leadership position would have had an easier time performing the required tasks as a subordinate would now find it difficult to guide his team on matters they find challenging which the said leader didn't.


I think it might be accurate. I think less intelligent people might make decisions to harm others more easily, and might make harder decisions in general more easily. It doesn't seem like an exact science though. It probably takes a "different intelligence".

@Faithless1 That seems possible. I put different intelligence is quotations because it seems one can have general intelligence, but lack emotional intelligence. I should have said emotional intelligence in my previous post initially.


That must be my problem.

I don't take the IQ thing without several shakes of salt, but I thought the average IQ was closer to 120.


i think they need many qualities like knowing when to be an asshole and when to be kind and compassionate good sense and figuring out ways to handle others knowing what makes others tick so to speak can be good and not being too dtubborn or full of ones self that he can't take advice

good leaders are smart intuitive and surround themselves with a diverse well rounded team of advisors they listen to


I, unfortunately, am cursed with this... Terrible burden to carry.

Gyanez Level 5 July 11, 2018

The World Economic Forum study tested "mid-level leaders at private companies", using two tests, the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) and the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ). I evaluated and used the WPT test yeas ago and it seemed to be valuable for filtering job candidates. I haven't used the MLQ test, but from what I understand about it, it may be valuable for some leadership positions.

But, a mid-level company leader should be following the leadership at the top, including the leadership style set by the CEO, which is what matters most. Intelligence does matter for a CEO of a company to be successful, all else being equal. And, the bigger the company, the more intelligence matters.


Difficult to lead if you can't relate to your minions, or if you're perceived as a pompous ass.

Have you not noticed just how many people feel threatened by intelligence?


Intelligence is all very well as a latent tendency but it needs to be employed in a practical sense, in an appropriate environment. Intelligence serves no purpose if it is applied without reference to prevailing circumstances.

IQ indicates, as I understand it, is an indicator of one's comprehensive faculties. Other personality traits would determine how this ability would be applied.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:128004
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.