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Are bosses really smarter?

A lot of employees think they know more than their managers, are more knowledgeable and more comfortable with new technology. And they maybe right but you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be an effective manager. You do however need to be very good at one thing…..

No surprise to most of us but recent research in Sweden has found no strong connection between how smart someone was and how much they earned (Guardian 10/5/23 ). Instead they found the difference was explained by factors such as luck, background and personality.

Now what does that tell us about the recruitment process in most organisations. Well for a start it confirms my belief that the I.Q. and  verbal reasoning tests which form the core of the assessment centre approach are a wast of time since the interview panel overrules their results in favour of background and personality.
Put it another way the decision is based on whether panel members feel they could work with the individual which in turn is based on whether they share a common background and come over as confident , competent and likeable. Of course I recognise that the earlier stage of the recruitment process has sifted out those who don’t have the essential experience and qualifications.
There is another way of looking at this. Do the smartest people make the most effective managers? I considered this a rhetorical question. In my experience the best managers don’t know more than everyone else, they are not necessarily the best problem solvers or the most creative nor are they the quickest to pick up new skills but what they are is very good at getting the best out of other people.
They know just how to encourage, support and challenge different individuals in their team to get the best results. They can also apply those skills people skills to people they work with out side of their team such as tapping into the specialist skills and knowledge of finance or HR.
The problem with the management recruitment process in most organisations is not that it fails to appoint the smartest people but that it all too often fails to appoint individuals with effective people management skills.

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