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Study Suggests People with High IQ Cannot Become Good Leaders

by Fahad Saleem

When you think of an ideal leader, we automatically assume that they would have a higher IQ and top notch intelligence. But science suggests totally opposite of this assumption. A new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology proves that people with higher IQ are not effective leaders. The research is based on the data collected from 379 middle managers. These managers were from European companies from various industries.  Researchers tracked these managers for 6 years. The IQ levels of these managers were gauged periodically of these years. They were also given personality tests. Researchers then questioned their subordinates and asked them about the effectiveness of their leaders.

The research was designed to find out the validity of the leadership theory propended by Professor Dean Keith Simonton. Professor Dean contends that after a certain point, increased intelligence results in a decline in effective leadership. The reason is simple: higher IQ people tend to be perfectionists. They cannot delegate tasks. They don’t get settle for anything less than perfect. They tend to have communication issues with the people with less IQ. Every manager was given a rating by at least 8 of its peers. Researchers used Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire to gauge the quality of leadership. The questions also asked subordinates to rank their managers based on different leadership styles (transformational, instrumental).

The results show that when the IQ level go beyond 120, the effectiveness of leadership declines. Intelligence is important but only up to a certain level.

Why Can’t High IQ People Lead Well?

Intelligent and higher IQ people often think of the most optimal ways to solve problems. When a highly intelligent person is at the helm, he’d make complex plans which others won’t be able to keep up with. Most of the peers will disappoint their high IQ leaders. Also, highly intelligent people become too intellectual, which intimidate others. The subordinates of a high IQ person will feel that their leader is not one of them. This creates barriers.

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