Why Bosses Feel Threatened By Employees That Are Smarter Than They Are

Being “the boss” is almost universally portrayed as the ideal place to be in any form of hierarchy, with its inherent privileges and enhanced power over subordinate positions, but there are legitimate reasons why bosses are threatened by employees more intelligent and educated than they are, and feel threatened while on the job.

Whether in a small business or massive multi-conglomerate corporation, the subtle nuances and blatant overtures of workplace politics can carry out such dramatic processes that they can even, at times, overshadow the day-to-day duties of workers involved. In situations that involve office politics and various ploys at garnering intangible advantages and footholds, there are a few critical reasons why bosses are threatened by employees more intelligent and educated than they are.

Ongoing Intimidation

The supervisor in question may be a respected professional in his or her field, but if this person does not have the academic or professional intellectual capacity to back it up, than they simply become a specialized cog in the machine, capable of performing their job well but perhaps not well-suited to their managerial status. Maybe they are promoted by a fond manager themselves, or achieved their stature through outright luck or other arbitrary circumstance. Soon, their mental weakness may be noticed and exploited by intelligent underlings, who can serve to surpass their prestige, undermine their authority, and subtly insult them, all within the arena of peer conversation, meeting discussion, and other communication forays.

Position Takeover

Then there is the most patently blatant, definitive reason why bosses are threatened by employees who are more intelligent and educated than they are: They may lose their job to this more brainy employee. Especially if they work in the same field, or even the same department or on the same flowchart, the implication is that if the lower-rung worker is smarter, but otherwise has the same professional credentials, then why can’t this person take the higher job? The unnerving fact, for the intellectually inferior agent in this interplay, is the grim fact that the more intelligent person may also be motivated enough to use that education and intellect to perform exactly that sort of takeover.

Office Politics

The idea of politics, as a whole, can be a confusing mess of blended motivation, detracting factions, and a seemingly hopeless quagmire of bureaucratic failure to lead into productive progress. Many avoid politics altogether, whether in their personal or working lives, but others seem to thrive on the debate, ideals, and opportunities offered in politics. This easily applies to the office environment as well, where the amount of peer relationships, inherently varied income and power allotments, and differing agendas automatically invokes politics at play. For a professional to succeed, they must often play the politics game, where their educational knowledge and accreditations may mean just as much as their political maneuvering abilities to influence policy, curry favor with those in leadership roles, and gain under-the-table, behind-the-curtain benefits. Highly intelligent employees that learn to play politics well are more likely to achieve the status, prestige, and positions they want, including those of their bosses.

Being the boss can be fantastic, with its superior pay and powerful responsibilities. However, it can also have consequences, such as being an instant target in the arena of office politics. Hopefully for the boss, employees more intelligent and educated than they are do not begin to plot their workplace demise.