Thinking about the leadership, the first thing comes to our mind may be traits of leaders. We tend to evaluate qualifications of leaders based on how many good traits they have. And one of the most important trait is intelligence.
What exactly is Intelligence? The dictionary meaning of intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. However, from psychological perspectives, we could divide it into three sections. This theory is called the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, which was developed by Robert Sternberg. Intelligence could be categorized into three types. The first one is Analytic Intelligence, which is the ability to analyze and evaluate ideas, solve problems and make decisions. The second one is Practical Intelligence which the ability that individuals use to find the best fit between themselves and the demands of the environment. The last one is Creative Intelligence which involves going beyond what is given to generate novel and interesting ideas. However, I found intelligence is extremely different based on different cultures.
I was born and raised in South Korea, and lived in China for about 13 years. I now live in the United States for about 3 years. I have various experiences with diverse cultures. And one thing I found interesting is when defining intelligence, there are some differences among cultures. In Asia, it focuses on Analytic Intelligence the most, and it influences leadership. When I was in Chinese schools, the most important qualification of student leaders is test scores. There are few ways of proving Practical and Creative Intelligence.
Compared to Western Countries, Asian countries tend to define a leader based on his or her Analytic Intelligence, especially based on academic scores. This tendency is not only in schools, but also in jobs. I cannot say it is bad, but it lacks of other important qualifications of leaders. Therefore, it is better for us to develop all three types of Intelligence.
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Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Williams, J. R. (n.d.). Lesson 1 Commentary: Introduction to Leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1985970/modules/items/2658941