5 Signs Your Boss Lacks Intrapersonal Intelligence

OK, here we go again with the Friday “5 Signs” post. I tried to channel my inner “Bad Boss” but then I realized, just think of some of the worst people you’ve worked with before. So here it is, 5 signs that your boss lacks intrapersonal intelligence.

  1. S/he’s a yeller. Now yelling doesn’t even have to be loud, it can be quite quiet but you sure know when you’ve been reamed out by the tone of voice. Yelling goes along with mood swings, grunts, facial twitches and other signs of emotional distress.
  2. Your boss takes all the credit for your successes but gives you the blame for his or her failures. Oh yeah. This is a wicked one. Problem is that it’s hard for upper management to catch whereas grunts and facial twitches are evident daily.
  3. Micromanaging. Yes, this does stem from Interpersonal Intelligence. The micro-manager can’t take any risks and you bear the brunt of stupid immaterial revisions and much second guessing.
  4. Flip- flopping. Yes, this is a management term. Just look it up. Flip-floppers are ones who can’t make up their minds, especially in challenging situations. There they go again, changing their minds as frequently as their underwear.
  5. Keeping grudges. Remember that time you didn’t complete that report correctly back in February. (You probably got yelled at for that too.) Well for sure that will be a part of this year’s performance appraisal, no matter how immaterial it is.

Fortunately, the weekend is here and if you’ve got one of these bosses then you have a few days to chill out and get ready for another week of job searching.

Howard Gardner – Intrapersonal Intelligence

Lest you think I’m making up some of this stuff on Intrapersonal Intelligence, I want to introduce you to Howard Earl Gardner, an American developmental psychologist who is a fancy professor at Harvard. The author of over 20 books he is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences.

Gardner’s theory is that intelligence is not generalized but that people have eight different types of intelligence, all independent of each other. These intelligences are different ways of learning and processing information, Gardner has identified eight intelligences:

  • Linguistic
  • Logic-mathematical
  • Musical
  • Spatial
  • Bodily/kinesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic.

As a leader, you’ll need to use many of these types of intelligence but the foundation of your success is to be able to understand yourself, thus Intrapersonal Intelligence.

Intrapersonal Intelligence has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are, what makes you unique, being able to predict your own reactions or emotions are elements of Intrapersonal Intelligence. Philosophical and critical thinking is common with this intelligence.

If you want to read more on this subject I would recommend Gardner’s book “Intelligence Reframed” (1999).

Research into Resilience

Research into the subject of resilience has shown that while for some, it is innate, for the rest of us, it can be acquired.

Emmy Werner was a sociologist who followed nearly 700 children from Kauai, Hawaii growing up with risk factors (one-third of whom had multiple risk factors) from birth to adulthood. Kauai was quite poor and many of the children in the study grew up with unemployed, alcoholic or mentally ill parents.

Approximately two thirds of these children became troubled teens and turned to petty crime.  However, about one third of the children in the exact same situation had no adverse affect—in fact some of them thrived.  Even those two thirds who had a tougher time usually managed to pull themselves together by age 30-40 and live happy and productive lives. In fact, only one out of six of the adult subjects at either age 32 or 40 was doing poorly — struggling with chronic financial problems, domestic conflict, violence, substance abuse, serious mental health problems, and/or low self-esteem.

What’s the difference here? It comes down to what researchers call Protective Factors. For the one third of children who did not act out as teens, the protective factors are innate. These children are born with characteristics such as not being distressed easily, being active, sociable, easy-going and having the ability to help themselves. Impulse control and several other key factors are in play here as well.

For the individuals who became resilient, they acquired protective factors later in life and were able to turn a negative situation into a positive one.



Work, like life, is usually two steps forward and one step back. Your ability to handle the one step back periods is what will define a lot of your success. To get through the setbacks, you’ll need resilience.

Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from setbacks, can be comprised of the following 8 qualities identified by Frederic Flach, MD in his book, “Resilience: How to Bounce Back When the Going Gets Tough” :

  • A sense of hope .
  • The ability to tolerate painful emotions.
  • Seeing other perspectives.
  • Having a support system.
  • Belief that you control your own destiny.
  • A good self-image and self-respect.
  • Self-reflection and insight.
  • A sense of humour and lots of interests.
Of these eight qualities, seven of them take a long time to develop but there is one that is easy to put in practice right away. That is perspective. Being able to see things from multiple perspectives will make you see that what you are going through isn’t all that bad.

Try this at work:

The next time you have a setback at work and find that you are feeling sorry for yourself then try seeing your situation from another perspective.

  • First, take your bosses perspective. Chances are that your setback is not all that material to your boss and perhaps it shouldn’t be material to you either.
  • Instead of looking at what went wrong, look at what might have also gone right in that situation, however small.
  • Look at all the other things that are going right in other situations.
  • Look at what you can learn from the setback.
  • Finally look at what happened in relation to your whole life. Is the setback all that important?

Karoshi – Death from Overwork

In an attempt to acknowledge the problems of work related stress, the Japanese have coined a new word. “Karoshi” is now the new term for “Death from Overwork” and is the word used to explain occupational sudden death, mostly due to heart attacks and stroke. The problem has become so important that statistics are kept for it nationally and have been since 1987.

Japan’s post war economic rise resulted in a very strong work ethic, so strong that the average Japanese worker puts in approximately two hours a day of overtime. Until the 1980s no one paid much attention to the larger than usual number of men in their 40s and 50s who died of brain and heart diseases. However, when several high-ranking executives suddenly died without any previous sign of illness, the news media began picking up on this new phenomenon.

“According to Japanese Labor Ministry statistics there had been only twenty-one case of karoshi in 1987, twenty-nine cases in 1988 and thirty cases in 1989. But a liaison council of attorneys established in 1988 to monitor deaths from overwork estimated in 1990 that over 10,000 people were dying each year from karoshi.” (www.apmforum.com/columns/boye51.htm)

While the term Karoshi may only be used in Japan, several places in the United States have also recognized the phenomenon. In New York, Los Angeles and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is so well acknowledged, that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly (including a heart attack sustained while fishing on vacation or gambling in Las Vegas).

The moral of the story: Stay Calm, this too shall pass and have a lovely weekend.