Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do You Believe Being Smart Is Enough?

We have all seen very successful people who didn’t appear to be very bright. Yet, when the window of opportunity opened up, they knew what to do. What do these people have that extremely intelligent people lack?

I know a number of people who have very high IQs. In fact, I know a gentleman who was classified as a genius at the age of four. When you speak to him, you know in less than five minutes that he is super smart. However, he appears to lack
certain human relation skills. As a result, he is having a difficult time finding a job and is currently sleeping out of his car.

It seems, while intelligence is important to be successful, the ability to make things work is far more important. Perhaps it is because some highly intelligent people have a tendency to let everyone around them know they are the smartest person in the room. That kind of intimidation interferes with productivity. The smart person’s intelligence is used as a weapon, which results in many people licking their wounds after a conversation with them. In other cases, people are resentful and find a way to even the score. 

On the other hand, there are people who have a propensity for creating a vision, enlisting others to support them and then create an environment that many people want to be part of. These people may not possess high IQs. They are the people who focus on workability. Furthermore, if these individuals are super smart, they develop the people around them. Instead of using their intelligence as a weapon, they may ask questions that will empower people to look at circumstances from a new perspective. They may even stretch people by asking them to accomplish goals that are over their head. Why? It creates coaching opportunities. In addition, when the person finally completes the task that was once too difficult, that person has increased their confidence, skills and competencies to take on something new.

Conversely, people who solely rely on being super smart managers rarely have the patience to coach someone up. They usually complete the goal themselves while thinking everyone around them is an idiot. As you can imagine, working with a very intelligent person who lacks people skills can be frustrating for everyone. So how do you deal with them? 

If done without maliciousness, straight talk can help eliminate the intelligent person’s disempowering behavior. You may have to say something like: ‘every time you speak to me that way I feel like I have no value to you. When I don’t feel valued, I am not motivated to work hard. If I am brutally honest with you, you just seem like an asshole who wants to win at everyone’s expense. That’s unfortunate because you are so damn smart. And I like working with smart people. I like you. It’s your pejorative remarks that are uncalled for.’

While I understand it may take guts to speak directly to another person this way, at the same time, there are many cases when the best thing you can do is tell a person they are jerk. In all likelihood, no one has said it to them and they may have a false sense of security.

Relying solely on high intelligence can be limiting. The ability to make things work can be more valuable to create successful relationships, teams or organizations. When people work well together, it is a great feeling for everyone. However, to get there, it can be messy. If you are willing to take a stand for yourself and others without invalidating another, it can be a great tool for creating an empowering work environment.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.


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