Several years ago I remember hearing that Google was searching for potential employees.  They decided that rather than post a job listing online of in a newspaper they would put up a mathematical formula on a billboard.  The individuals who were able to solve the math formula discovered that it was a phone number.  That phone number was effectively guaranteed an interview appointing with the people looking to hire.  The idea behind it from what I understood was that Google only wanted smart people applying for the job.

In project management we often talk about a variety of criteria when looking for the perfect candidate.  These criteria can include:

  • Number of years of experience
  • Certifications
  • Specific industry knowledge
  • Track record managing a certain type of size of project
  • Educational requirements such as engineering or an MBA
  • Leadership and soft skills
  • Language capabilities

Interestingly enough though I have never seen a job description or a listing for that matter that required a certain IQ level.  My own personal bias in years past has been the assumption that the average project manager is smarter than the average citizen. Although I must admit that this particular assumption has been proven wrong on several occasions.

One challenging twist to success in project management is the person’s ability to deal with people.  However, several individuals who I know and consider extremely intelligent have a hard time dealing with people.  Indeed “book smarts” and “street smarts” often don’t go together.  Perhaps someone who is “street smart” would be better able to execute in the role of project manager with a greater degree of ease that someone who is “off the charts” smart.

I am certainly not insinuating that that project managers don’t need to have intelligence, on the contrary.  What I’m outlining is that the project manager does not need to be the smartest person on the team or in the room.  To that extent I go back to my biased opinion.  As long as the project manager is of above average intelligence the issue of IQ becomes secondary to the criteria I mentioned above.