Leadership and Intelligence: Lessons for Oil and Gas Project Leaders in Nigeria


By Lucky Enajite Edjenekpo, CCP, PMP

Warri, Nigeria

Strengthening one’s Leadership ability does not imply following a set of instructions or methodology. The reasons for this are not farfetched. The instructions or methodology may not be in consonant with the individual’s personality or style; the individual may not be genuine at applying the instructions and may be at a loss when exceptional situations arise (Clawson, 2001:1).

According to Professor James G. Clawson (2001:1):

Most observers believe that intelligence is an important precursor to effective leadership. Smart people are generally considered to have the best potential for being the leaders of industry, nations, and institutions. Interestingly, a study of valedictorians, however, indicates that after twenty years, most of them are working for their classmates (Goleman, cited in Clawson, 2001:1). This counter- intuitive result causes us to rethink our beliefs about intelligence and its relationship to effective leadership.

Clawson (2001:1) believes that the philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment in western civilization has contributed to ‘many of the leadership models taught in business schools [that] have focused on rational decision making in which emotions are viewed as detriments or obstacles to making good decisions’.

Furthermore, it has been argued that although the concept of intelligence quotient (or IQ) has been the most prominent measure of intelligence, its validity as well as those of general intelligence or aptitude substitutes have come into question in recent years. These tests ‘still wield a great deal of influence over our academic opportunities and those of our children’ (Clawson, 2001:2).

However, ‘startling conclusions about the nature of intelligence – many of them at odds with old assumptions- have begun to emerge’ in recent times (Clawson, 2001:2).

Three important inferences can be drawn from Daniel Goleman research on recent studies, according to Clawson. They are:

  • Existing standardized intelligence tests fail to predict success in life or in business because they do not tell the whole story;
  • Emotion, while it can sometimes sabotage clear-headed thought, has been scientifically shown to be an indispensable contributor to rational thinking and decision-making, and
  • Despite traditional views that IQ is inherited and that one cannot do much to change it, the newly recognized various intelligences seem to be, to a large extent, learned (Clawson, 2001:2)

It could be argued that there exist multiple intelligences (Goleman cited in Clawson, 2001:2) and that believing in ‘longstanding notion of a single kind of intelligence [is] both wrongheaded and injurious’ (Gardner cited in Clawson, 2001:2).

According to Clawson (2001:3) ‘Gardner’s perspective explained why traditional tests had been ineffective in predicting success: they measured only one or two of many necessary and important kinds of intelligence’.


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About the Author

lucky-enajite-edjenekpoLucky Enajite Edjenekpo, CCC, PMPflag-nigeria

Warri, Nigeria

Lucky Enajite Edjenekpo is an oil and gas professional with over 24 years’ experience in project management and operations management. He is currently the Port Harcourt District Manager at Exterran Nigeria Limited, Nigeria. Lucky holds a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Nigeria. Lucky is a Certified Cost Consultant (CCC) and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), driven by passion to advance maintenance service delivery. He lives in Warri, Nigeria and can be contacted at [email protected].