top of page

How Your Intellectual Intimidation Can Impact Your Team and Organization

I'm working with a senior leader at a biotech firm.

His colleagues are often in awe of his intelligence. He's quick to solve problems, has an in-depth understanding of the marketplace, and has an impressive education and experience.

Eric worked tirelessly to reach his current position and is rightly proud of his achievements.

His attitude says: “I’ve worked hard and deserve my status.”

However, Eric's intelligence has a double edge.

He often dismisses those he perceives as less smart or junior to him, creating a clear double standard and alpha behavior.

This can lead to a lack of communication due to intimidation, lack of delegation, inflexibility, and stifled innovation – The whole company pays the consequences.

Respect, for Eric, is determined by the intellectual prowess of the individuals he interacts with.

This has led him into a pattern of behavior that can come across as arrogant and condescending, particularly towards those he believes are beneath his intellectual standard.

Eric realizes this pattern through our work and knows he needs to change it.

He understands that he's behaving like an 'alpha' leader - not through displays of power, but by using his intellect to force his opinions through and dismiss others’ input.

He knows he needs to cultivate empathy and a broader appreciation for the many forms of intelligence that exist in his team.

Do you see yourself in Eric's story? Ask yourself:

  • Double Standards: Do you treat people differently based on their perceived intelligence?

  • Arrogance and Condescension: Do you inadvertently exhibit dismissive behavior towards those you consider less intelligent?

  • Lack of Empathy: Do you struggle to understand and value the unique abilities and insights of others?

Recognizing these challenges is the first step toward growth. Here's what Eric (and you) can do to improve:

Self-Observation: Regularly reflect on your behavior and interactions. Catch yourself when you're being dismissive or condescending. Feel free to assign someone to give you feedback.

Expand Your Definition of Intelligence: Recognize that there are many forms of intelligence. Your team may operate differently than you, but not necessarily with less intelligence. It's just different and probably more creative than you think.

Practice Emotional Intelligence: I can give you pages to read on this subject, and I know here is the core of the work, but mostly, listen and understand the emotions of your team members and react empathetically. This will help you communicate better and build stronger relationships.

Here is the thing about Eric (and you): he is very intelligent, and it didn't take long for him to realize what was happening.

So, use your smarts to stop this arrogant behavior because IQ never beats EQ.

It requires emotional intelligence, empathy, and an understanding that intelligence comes in many forms.

In which situations do you identify with Eric's journey?



You're an Alpha Leader - brilliant, driven, formidable. But what about the emotional landscape of leadership? It can sometimes strain relationships and team dynamics.

Here is where I come in.

Together, we'll shape you into an Empathic Alpha Leader, where strength meets understanding, and decisiveness pairs with empathy.

Start your journey to empathic leadership today.



bottom of page