Success and General Cognitive Ability

This research is surprising and contradicts some of the EQ research that was popularized in the 90s.

Intelligence in the workplace is not that different from intelligence at school, according to the results of a meta-analysis of over one hundred studies involving more than 20,000 people. The findings contradict the popular notion that abilities required for success in the real world differ greatly from what is needed to achieve success in the classroom. The results are published in the January issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

General cognitive ability, or g, has remained controversial since the concept was introduced nearly a century ago. Research has shown that g predicts a broad spectrum of behaviors and performances, including academic achievement, job performance, creativity and health-related behaviors. Despite this, many people, including some social scientists, continue to believe that the abilities required for job success and abilities required for academic success are different.

This surprises me because I am a member of MENSA, and I can tell you from the meetings I have been to that the social skills threshold is slightly below the average level. And I think social skills are very important for success in most fields of employment.

You can be the best quarterback in the world but if you go play for a team that runs the option a lot, you may never get a chance to prove yourself – your skills are not accentuated by the system. Most work systems, in my experience, don't promote the smartest people or even the best workers to the top – they promote the people who can best play the system. Of course, you could argue that intelligence helps a person play the system better, so maybe my distrust of this research is misplaced.