General Mental Ability (g) and Leader Development

  • Steven J. CondlyEmail author
Part of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology book series (AOTP, volume 15)


Intelligence (also known as general mental ability or g), as an explanatory construct, has been somewhat ignored in the study of human development in general and in leader development in particular. Studies of intelligence reveal it to be a strong predictor of academic, career, and life success. Researchers in the past have shown that intelligence also plays a role in predicting leadership emergence and effectiveness. Leader development, however, since it is properly nested in developmental (and organizational) psychology, tends to elicit the use of models and social processes to explain how leaders develop. In contrast, intelligence researchers have traditionally taken an individual difference approach. Evidence is herein presented which supports the validity of intelligence as a psychological scientific construct and demonstrates its association with academic, occupational, and life achievement. Then, in more speculative fashion, the literature dealing with leadership and leader development is explained, culminating in suggestions for a research agenda.


Intelligence General mental ability Leadership Development Leader Complexity Learning Transfer 



The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral Sciences and LeadershipUnited States Military AcademyWest PointUSA

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