It would seem to be a no-brainer that intellect in leadership plays an integral part in their enterprises. THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT TOPIC FOR ALL OF OUR FUTURES THAT IT CERTAINLY BEARS REPEATING, PROBABLY MANY TIMES. In other words, better intelligence produces better leaders and lack of intelligence produces worse leaders. This seems like common sense, even though it could be classified as elitist, but have we ever measured the truth of this assumption?

     We know that simpletons, or the certifiably mad, are probably not good leadership material. However, we also suspect that geniuses (genii?) would also make terrible leaders. In the leadership “stakes” there is no yardstick, or, at least, there hasn’t been until now.

     Nico Voigtländer and Sebastian Ottinger at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an article in which they claim that they can measure intellectual impact on leadership. They further claim that leadership success can be identified using genomes. If they are right, it is possible that potentially “good” leaders could be identified early, and cultivated. It also offers up the tantalizing possibility that potentially bad ones could be strangled at birth, or soon afterwards.

     Voigtländer and Ottinger used the genome of King Charles II of Spain as a base for their study.

     King Charles had an under bite so extreme that he could not chew, a tongue so big he could not speak clearly, and a body so weak he couldn’t support his own weight. Slight exaggeration though this description might have been, or maybe not, the cause was attributed to generations of in-breeding. Each round of in-breeding making the off-spring slightly more stupid and degenerative. The authors then evaluated Spain’s progress, or lack of it, under King Charles.

     They then studied 331 European monarchs between 990 and 1800, and the corresponding records of their country’s achievements during their reigns. The result of their analysis showed that the relationship between intellect in leadership and successful reigns was obvious and predictable. The more stupid the monarch, the worse the country fared. The “brighter” the monarch, the better the country fared.

     Voigtländer and Ottinger then applied these results to modern-day politics. They found that their research results were timeless. The dumber the politicians are, the worse the voters suffer. Paradoxically, the more intelligent the politicians are, the better the country fares. The only caveat being that, if politicians are too intelligent, the result is the same as if they were dumb. Interesting!

     If this research is verified, and common sense and logic say it will be, there are obvious implications for current education practices, political selection processes, election regulations and procedures and impeachment requirements.

     It is tempting to apply Voigtländer and Ottinger’s research to current events around the world…but why not? It would be fun, if demoralizing, and even terrifying.

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