Do Smart People Make The Best Managers

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Everybody's talking about IQ testing and the importance of raw intelligence. A 1999 article in Scientific American said that only the top 5% of Americans (those above an IQ of 125) are even potentially capable of doing senior roles. The bottom 5% (those below IQ of 75) are unlikely to be able to work and will form an underclass in society.

Company's have always recognized the importance of straightforward "academic smarts" both through specific graduate recruitment programmes and more generally in the way they select and recruit people.

There is an opposing point of view though. Some psychologists have criticized the whole idea of IQ. They either claim it doesn't actually exist or that it is simply a measure of how good you are at doing IQ tests! Others claim that it is biased against certain groups OR that it doesn't predict work success (work "smarts" are not the same as "academic brilliance"). Some theorists have claimed its too narrow a concept; that "intelligence" is in fact a bundle of different attributes from understanding language and manipulating numbers to being able to get on with people. Different jobs require different sets of skills.

The provisional answer to "Do Smart People Make the Best Managers?" is NO! We all know very clever people who are not just bad managers but are socially totally ineffective; people who seem almost lopsided.

Yet intelligence as defined in IQ is important. IQ is often defined as being able to deal with increasingly complexity - and most managers do have to do that.

Intelligence seems to be a hurdle you have to jump over. You need a certain amount of intelligence to get into a management role. The more senior you get, the more different management jobs get and therefore the wider the variety of skills you'll need.

Think about the different combinations of personal attributes you may need for different management jobs.

Think about particularly changes in fast track graduate schemes. There is a collapse in confidence that degrees and other academic qualifications measure what they were measuring even 5 or 6 years ago: and the evidence is that this is in fact the case. Thus many graduate recruiters are doing ancillary measures of high level reasoning to check who are the real high fliers. But the real trick is not only to measure raw cognitive intelligence but those other attributes which may lead to success later on in careers.

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