future matters

The courage to be stupid

02 October 2019

The courage to be stupid

Why do leaders need to develop other types of intelligence?

In the book “The courage to be stupid – new models of leadership” Anna Zanardi first describes what she means by stupidity. To her being stupid is not something negative, but on the contrary a very positive characteristic. A stupid person willingly goes head to head against the hazards of reason, calculated intuition and what is taken for granted. Very often that’s the type of leader that achieves success. To be stupid you need to be willing to challenge the status quo, to risk making a fool of yourself, to dare to do things differently, to admit that you don’t know everything instead of pretending you do. Therefor you need to be brave to be stupid.

But what kind of courage are we talking about? The book differentiates between physical courage, moral courage, social courage and creative courage that all play a role. We’re most interested in the creative courage that is required, because this is what we help leaders to further develop. Creative courage refers to the human capacity to risk giving up one’s comfort zone for an unknown future. If you develop your ability to use different perspectives, face your own doubts and keep questioning conventions you will become more open to opportunities and growth. Creative courage allows you to grasp a greater sense of the world and create something that previously didn’t exist.

Courage is the basis of leadership. Courage enables the leader to see a new reality, to propose new opportunities, to take decision and to keep on learning. Being courageous is a choice that originates from intrinsic motivation, it’s a personal decision to act according to one’s purpose & values and take up the challenge. Naturally leaders should be intelligent as well, but Anna Zanardi defines stupidity as being part of the type of ‘fluid intelligence’ you need to manage high levels of abstraction and uncertainty. This is not so much about IQ but about EQ and CQ (Creative Intelligence). Creative intelligence is the ability to work on innovative and original personal visions, starting from a very high state of awareness. It is this type of long-term intelligence that will make you an excellent leader.

How stupid do you dare to be? Do you think you can become a better leader by developing creative courage?