Do smarter people make better leaders? Although the general answer is "yes," it depends on what you mean by "smart." Almost a century of research on basic intelligence (what is referred to as "academic" or "verbal" intelligence - better known as IQ) suggests that IQ is slightly to moderately related to attaining a leadership position and to leader success. But that doesn't always fit with people's experience. Some who we consider geniuses don't always make good leaders, for example, scientists, brilliant mathematicians, breakthrough artists. On the other hand, we see leaders who don't appear particularly smart. One US congressman recently said, "you don't have to be a genius to be in Congress." So, IQ matters, but not as much as we might think. There are, however, other types of intelligence.
In the past dozen or so years there has been huge interest in what is called "emotional intelligence" (EQ as opposed to IQ). Emotional intelligence is the ability to communicate with others at an emotional level, to use emotions to help guide decision making, to be able to regulate emotions, and possessing knowledge about emotions and emotional processes. Is EQ related to leadership? Yes, to some extent. It's important for creating good relationships between leaders and followers, and charismatic leaders seem to have an extraordinary ability to communicate at the emotional level. Again, however, the relationship between EQ and leadership is significant but small. But there is a third form of intelligence important for leaders, and it has not received much attention.