Senior leaders are often recognized for their high intelligence. However, raw intelligence alone is not sufficient to become a more effective leader. Equally important is smartness, the ability to apply intelligence effectively in various contexts, largely in the context of dealing with people. Think of it as the bridge between raw intelligence and tangible results.

The ability to comprehend complex issues, make strategic decisions, and understand intricate people dynamics is vital to successful leadership.

Smartness encompasses emotional intelligence, the ability to take action, effective communication, and more. Successful leaders don’t merely possess high intelligence; they deploy it effectively in various situations, leading to greater career success.

Some leaders have smartness challenges but don’t know how to identify them, how to mitigate them, and whom to turn to for confidential guidance and mentoring. If you don’t know your smartness enablers and disablers, how will you know what to leverage more and what to mitigate?

Enablers are the leader’s current traits, skills, or behaviors that amplify the person’s effectiveness and facilitate the full deployment of their intelligence and smartness. These may include empathy, teamwork or persistence. Many people fail to fully leverage their enablers, instead focusing on their disabler.

Disablers are traits, skills, or behaviors that can limit a leader’s effectiveness. For example, a leader’s inability to delegate can impede team effectiveness and outcomes. Going to a training class on delegation is often useless, as it usually fails to bridge the knowing-doing gap. How much money have you wasted on those approaches?

Leaders should identify and comprehend these traits, endeavoring to maximize their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Look closely at leaders who did get repeated promotions and those who didn’t, and you’ll find one thing:





Most leaders fail to get senior promotions because of their disablers (weaknesses) than because of a lack of enablers (strengths). The enablers are what brought them to this point. The disablers are what will hold them back from progressing higher. We have data from hundreds of assessment takers that clearly show a strong correlation between disablers and a lack of career progression, and that less successful people have more disablers than more successful people do.

Leaders who grasp the importance of high intelligence, smartness, and the management of traits become more proficient at leading teams (other like working with this leader), solving complex problems, and achieving better outcomes while nurturing an environment that encourages creativity and collaboration… and get promoted to higher positions repeatedly.