Great Leaders May Need Translators

Scientific American published an article on the science of why people dislike really smart leaders. It turns out - they may need translators.

Here is a link to the article:

It turns out that people with IQs higher than 120 are often rated as ineffective leaders by their teams. The problem is high IQ people - are REALLY valuable because they are often really good at problem solving and organizing and juggling lots of things simultaneously. Their brains are simply - really agile.

As with all leadership, if people don't like or don't understand the leader, then they won't follow and there will be problems.   Part of the problem may be that staff and teams may not understand what the solution is that the leader is proposing because - they can't follow the thinking of the leader - because they think so differently than people with IQs in the normal range.

Another problem may be that someone with a high IQ is so busy thinking, they aren't really concerned with the social aspects of leading. But it's the social aspects that help people trust the leader.

So what is the solution?  It may be that high IQ leaders need a translator. Someone who can explain the thinking of the high IQ person in a way that normal people understand so that they can follow it and understand why it will work.

Another reason for the translator is to help fill in the gaps in the social skills. My niece was recently hired to work at a hospital where she is - essentially - the social skills translator for her boss. Her boss can focus on the stuff she's good at. And my niece's job is to get to know people on staff, and support them so  that the staff feel valued and like they matter.

Great thinkers may not be great at the social aspects of a leadership job - but we still need their problem solving abilities to be recognized. Understanding our limitations as leaders can help us hire support people to manage the interpersonal relationships critical to creating successful teams.

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