yes, therapy helps!
What types of intelligence help to be a good leader?

What types of intelligence help to be a good leader?

April 22, 2024

The ability to lead is a highly valued competition in today's society . In a world as competitive as ours, it is essential to be able to guide and motivate others towards the achievement of certain objectives, make them see that common objectives are compatible with their own and the need to ascribe and comply with them.

In this aspect, a high level of intelligence would seem to be very useful to represent the role of leader, since it is easy to assume that the more intelligent the person is, the more effectively he / she plays the role of leader. But is this really so?

Important intelligences in the leader

The logic and data obtained through various studies dictate that general intelligence (measured by the Intellectual Quotient) is useful when establishing a leadership, since a high level of intelligence allows a better situational analysis and consideration of alternatives .

However, this relationship between intelligence and efficient leadership has been found in a correlation between small and moderate. On the contrary, it is relatively frequent that those who are considered as geniuses in the intellectual do not turn out to be good leaders. This is because having high intellectual abilities does not guarantee that in critical situations one has the ability to overcome and know how to lead the group.

In fact, sometimes a greater intellectual capacity can produce counterproductive results , producing a leadership ineffective that ends up being ignored, in the case of situations in which the leader has much more capacity than the subordinates.

This is partly due to the emotional distance created by the difference between abilities and the fact that intelligence is a general construct that refers to a set of capabilities, it does not have to be similar to the set of skills needed to lead . For example, having a high IQ does not imply the ability to motivate and know how to treat people under their charge. What really implies greater effectiveness in leadership is the sense of competence and experience that the leader has.

Types of leadership

The studies carried out by different authors seem to demonstrate the existence of different types of leadership within the same group. Apart from these two types, depending on how the power is exercised, different styles of leadership can be found (one of the most outstanding being the transformational).

1. Leader focused on the task

Leader focused on meeting objectives and in production . It is a type of leader who specializes in the task to be carried out, being an expert component in charge of mobilizing the available resources. Although they raise productivity, the perception of workers towards them is usually negative.

This type of leader can have a very high academic and general intelligence, and tends to be poorly accepted by subordinates, which in spite of raising productivity in the long run can also increase unrealized productivity.

2. Social-emotional leader

This type of leader tends to focus his performance on the employee , achieving the maintenance of a stable and functional work network, establishing collaboration strategies among employees and helping to reduce tensions. They minimize unrealized productivity and tend to have greater appreciation and information than other types of leaders.

What makes a leadership efficient?

The researcher Fred Fiedler elaborated what is known as the contingency model, according to which the effectiveness of the leader is determined by the leadership style and situational control . This last element depends on the structuring of the task, the power of the leader and his relationship with the subordinates, the latter being the element of greatest relevance when it comes to producing an effect on the effectiveness of leadership.

Task-centered leaders are very useful in situations where situational control is very low or very high, while in intermediate situations the social-emotional leaders seem to work better. This differentiation shows that there is no more efficient leadership than another, but that The type of leadership indicated will depend on the type of activities and activity characteristics , company, goal, leader and staff.

The intelligence applied to effective leadership

As mentioned above, for a leadership to be considered efficient it is essential to take into account the type of relationship maintained with the subordinates, since the leader-subordinate relationship does not cease to be an interpersonal bond.

In this sense, general intelligence is not as relevant as one of several diverse intelligences, emotional intelligence and interpersonal intelligence, which are much better predictors of efficient leadership than the measure of general intelligence.

A charismatic leader with a high level of emotional intelligence will show a remarkable ability to communicate positively affecting the emotionality of the worker. This ability allows you to collaborate with subordinates to help them make decisions, make each one's performance as necessary and contribute to making the need to change attitudes and beliefs based on emotional regulation and empathy.

However, although this type of intelligence is fundamental to good leadership, the type of intelligence that best predicts the success of a leader is social intelligence. This type of intelligence refers to the ability to understand, participate and manage social situations, both formal and informal, as well as be able to visualize and deepen the perspectives of others . It also allows influencing others.

Despite all the above, we must bear in mind that the level of intelligence, both social and emotional as well as general, is an advantage in order to establish a clear, effective and efficient leadership.


In short, intelligence plays an important role in establishing and maintaining a positive and functional leadership. Especially relevant in this aspect are social or interpersonal intelligence and emotional .

However, the presence of high intellectual capacities does not imply per se a better leadership, but the effectiveness of the leader will depend on many factors, derived both from the leader and the staff, activity and situation, being in fact better predictor of success. experience of the leader in the handling of the different situations.

Bibliographic references:

  • Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence The new science of human relations. Editorial Kairos, Madrid.
  • Riggio, R.E., Murphy, S.E., & Pirozzolo, F.J. (2002). Multiple intelligences and leadership. Erlbaum
  • Bass, Bernard M. (2008). The handbook of leadership (4th ed., With Ruth Bass). Free Press
  • Peiró, J.M. (1991). Psychology of the Organization. Volumes 1 and 2. UNED, Madrid.
  • Palací, F. (2004). Psychology of the Organization. Ed. Pearson Prentice Hall. Madrid.

Emotional Intelligence: How Good Leaders Become Great -- UC Davis Executive Leadership Program (April 2024).

Similar Articles