How High IQ Negatively Impacts a CEO

How High IQ Negatively Impacts a CEO

Woman giving a presentation to a CEO


Steps of overall intelligence (IQ) have a very long and contentious history. Most experts now agree to a couple of things: IQ is quantifiable; it illuminates as early as age; also it’s predictive of several positive results, such as educational and fiscal attainment. In popular culture, however, hyper intellect is often connected to social awkwardness. The picture of this exceptionally wise individual who possesses common sense and can not relate to individuals is still now a staple of TV and films.

For better or worse, this particular stereotype has a foundation in fact: scientific studies have noticed that in quite substantial ranges, IQ has been inversely linked to powerful social and social abilities (Gross 2002).

Given that social skills are critical at work, may markedly high IQ be an issue –especially in high tech direction? Quite a few articles, research findings, and also sites will have us think. Fast Company magazine (Azzarello 2012), by way of instance, indicated the high-IQ executive does not listen well and may frustrate her or his staff. Immediate reports grow tired of requesting extra excuses; the “clever executive” grows resentful of having to maintain the hands of workers. Mael (2005) also indicates that often the exact smart executive is ineffective, in part due to trends to develop impatient, to “always be appropriate,” and also to deny to “leave space for the other people to be clever also.”

Despite these assertions, evaluation of information in Korn Ferry’s evaluations of top-level executives shows no signs of leaders “too bright ” High IQ executives are normally high performers, along with also the positive impact correlated with IQ doesn’t plateau. Some investigators agree with our verdict, finding a beneficial and even significant influence on functionality (Hunter and Hunter 1984), although others indicate that (within ordinary IQ ranges), IQ has a small impact on an executive operation (Sternberg 1997; Fernandez-Araoz 2001; Emmerling and Goleman 2003).

So to some extent that the jury stays out on IQ. Does this have a positive impact? Negative? Is the consequence just trivial? Why the conflicting findings?


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We in the Korn Ferry Institute reasoned that if a high IQ is an asset or a liability is dependent upon somebody’s social-emotional makeup. We procured info on 209 upper-level executives and managers to check our theory. Each individual had finished an extensive executive evaluation that included a direction functionality simulation, and also measures of IQ (which you can also take at), and also self-awareness.

Self-awareness–which entails insight into an individual’s own behavior, strengths, motivations, and flaws –is the main part of emotional intelligence and can be highly correlated with social abilities. Self-aware executives know the impact they have on others and control their feelings and societal behavior consequently (Herwig, Kaffenberger, Jäncke, along with Brühl 2010). They’re more inclined to be skilled and suitably empathetic, and consequently not likely to exhibit the impatience, poor listening, and relevant bitterness noted from the sites and posts relating to high IQ executives.

Statistical investigations confirmed our theory. High IQ enhances executive operation for all people who have elevated levels of all self-awareness. For people whose self-awareness is reduced, improved IQ becomes a responsibility and detriment to managerial operation.

Stated otherwise, a company can expect much better leadership functionality by an executive with reduced self-awareness and a typical IQ compared to one with reduced self-awareness along with a top IQ.

Our results fall in accordance with well-established research linking strong social-emotional skills (in typical to high IQ level inhabitants) with the favorable managerial operation. What’s novel about our discovering is that self-awareness really seems to medium whether IQ is negative or positive for company leaders.

In reality, self-awareness appears to issue more than intellect. Unlike IQ, it reveals an unqualified positive connection with functionality. This is not surprising: additional research of leadership functionality has discovered that social-emotional variables have up to two the effects of IQ (Goleman 1998; Womenetics 2014). Additionally, self-awareness–including IQ–appears to be malleable also well into maturity (Davidson, Jackson, along with Kalin 2000). Growing in self-awareness, subsequently, is a powerful development opportunity for people aspiring to the C-suite. It not only contributes to more successful management normally but also brings out the positive elements of different features from executives–such as large IQ.


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