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What exactly is intelligence? Is it something measured by an IQ test? Or, the results of a whole bunch of tests? I’m not sure. I suppose test results can show something, but what about other rules of personal engagement, like humor, the ability to figure things out, or storytelling? That’s why I think some of the smartest people are comedians, like Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, Tina Fey, or Jason Bateman.

For example, Jason Bateman is a comedic guy whose personage was launched in Arrested Development, a comedy of a dysfunctional family in Southern California. But, his true genius was moving onto a series called Ozark, a serious drama splattered with his comedic ways entwined. No test proved his intelligence. Instead, his smartness was shown by his actions, or more realistically, his acting. He may or may not rate high on tests, but that doesn’t matter. His actions show his smartness.


A definition of intelligence is the ability to learn things and then use that knowledge in varying environments. Intelligence is an adaptability skill living in an abstract world. The problem is how to measure this IQ thing. As soon as some sort of IQ measurement is calculated, it is immediately called into question.

No matter the intelligence measurement, it can be squashed in suppressive environments. I don’t mean to say that smart people take on questionable intelligence. But tons of questioning in lousy learning environments, even the smartest people can seem ineffective. Intelligence needs to be encouraged to reach full potential. That’s where we as bosses come in, to the point of encouraging people’s smartness in ways that make them really, well, smart.

Therefore, measurement isn’t all that important in work worlds. Yes, you need to hire smart people, but they have to know how to work, too. Smartness in working environments, where a person works for an organization, is measured by the ability to get things done, things that advance the company. I swear, some people sit around and do absolutely nothing while at work. (None of those people report to me, by the way.) What we need are people who see the goal, ask a lot of great questions, and complete tasks in new and gifted ways. We, as bosses, need to encourage that behavior.

Encouragement vs the Opposite

But if we encourage incorrectly, or don’t show our workers the ways of the business, even the smartest people can become bored and drop out of the workplace. That’s a shame. If they don’t show immediate success, they drop away from others, becoming distracted from organizational purpose. I’ve had bosses like that, who constantly point out negative things where after a while, I have no desire to do anything productive. Why? I can only take on so much criticism.

I doubt most bosses know how influential they are. Boss behavior can make or break an organization. Or, worse, can send it down a road of mediocrity. I prefer bosses who don’t get overwhelmed by circumstances, stay active in positive things, and put work in perspective. In other words, I prefer bosses who are smart. Not necessarily IQ test smart, but just plain relationship smart.

One of my favorite bosses fits this definition of a smart worker. He doesn’t put work above personal things. But, he also knows the importance of work-related matters. However, when he goes home, he knows the importance of putting the work side of his life behind him. I’m still working at that skill. I tend to let things bother me, which I know is not right. I’m getting better, though.

Thank you for listening.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” [Albert Einstein.]

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About The Author

Duane Dike
Duane Dike

Duane Dike is the manager of creative production for a large entertainment company in Southern California. He has a doctorate in management and organizational leadership and an MBA in management. He is a popular guest speaker for education and management groups on subjects related to innovation, leadership and thinking.