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The smart leader: examining the relationship between intelligence and leader development behavior

Carrie A. Blair (Management and Entrepreneurship, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Charles Allen Gorman (Management and Marketing, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, USA)
Katherine Helland (Fors Marsh Group, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Lisa Delise (Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 29 April 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between intelligence and behavior during leader development.


As part of a leader development program, a variety of measures are collected, including measures of intelligence and measures of performance (e.g. assessment center performance, a 360-degree appraisal). The participants are given performance feedback from a variety of sources then asked to form developmental goals. The goals are examined for goal quality and goal-feedback correspondence, and examined in relation to intelligence.


Intelligence was positively related to goal-feedback correspondence. Intelligence was also related to goal quality after controlling for variance attributed to professional discipline.

Research limitations/implications

Personality, gender, age, and other variables were not included in this study. Other factors, such as the cultures of the organizations from which the individuals hailed, were also not included. Moreover, the conclusions were based on the behaviors exhibited in one leader development program. Future research should address these limitations.

Practical implications

Leader development is expensive and is becoming more popular. The results of this research could help organizations better determine who is likely to benefit from the investment in leader development.


In addition, a unique method is presented in the study for measuring leader development behavior based on goal quality and goal-feedback correspondence. Generalizability theory is applied in order to determine the reliability of the measures.



A. Blair, C., Allen Gorman, C., Helland, K. and Delise, L. (2014), "The smart leader: examining the relationship between intelligence and leader development behavior", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 241-258.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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