Is Multiple Intelligence Just a Theory? Well, it turns out that some people are better suited to some jobs than others. Who knew?! For example, how’d you feel if someone told you that you had to sell 49 mortgages in one week? I once tried to be a Youth Worker, but after eight months of trying I realised I was just not the rah-rah type (extrovert) required. And, no amount of squirming pretence would help. Allen once tried a Sales Consultant job. He left after a day!
What Is Multiple Intelligence Theory?
Howard Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard, first popularised the idea that IQ was too limited a measurement of intelligence and instead promoted his Multiple Intelligence Theory. It sets forth a pleasing list of categories, a few of which anyone might possess, and provides scientific solace for those who were haughtily labelled “slow”, “dull”, “distracted”, “better suited to a manual job”, “quiet” or “not really suited for academia”. Each is more of an aptitude or attraction, the encouragement and development of which in early learning and later in the workplace may result in an intelligent person who is highly skilled, as well as comfortable and even happy, in their work.
So What Type of Multiple Intelligence Do You Possess?
This is Gardner’s full list, along with a brief definition of each. He said that traditional education typically homes in on the first two, linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence (hence the well-known, but badly named, “three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic”).
In the real world, we prize those who can express themselves well (particularly in person) and those who can think logically. However, this ignores the vast range of human capability. Consider someone who is able to express themselves on canvas but is not necessarily comfortable with publicity. Or think of a talented singer who is not quite so adept at remembering to plan to pay his bills?
Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)
If you can communicate well, influence others, get people to notice you, enrapture an audience orally or in writing, you have made an impact and will be lauded for your intelligence, even if that is not how it is commonly labelled. Orators have long been celebrities of a kind the modern-day variations include entrepreneurs, inspirational speakers and even linguistically-gifted religious leaders. Even successful authors though pigeon-holed as lacking in social skills have fans queuing up to purchase their latest tome.
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
Those who are good with numbers, particularly with a scientific bent, are typically represented in the media as glasses-wearing, bookish types who crunch numbers for fun. They are worshipped for skills of which others can only dream of and provide merriment in movies for those whose understanding ends at the minutae of actors’ lives. Yet without such, we’d not have neither science nor inventions. And, it turns out Spocks have emotions too!
Yet, there are others who, while they may be praised, are not quite so prized or talked about in terms of “intelligence”.
Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)
Do you know someone who can look at a map and rotate it in their head? Conversely, do you know someone who always takes the wrong route after coming out of a building? Is there someone in your life who possess the uncanny ability tell the time without having looked at a clock for hours? Knowing where you are in the world in space and time, and being able to use this special power, is called spatial intelligence.
Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart)
Are you aware of any famous sportspeople? Are they called “intelligent” or are they instead fawned over by amateurs, fans and media alike for their “skill”? Have you ever watched a lumberjack or a farmer? It is a beautiful thing to behold their respect for wildness or life and their unity with the earth. This is another type of intelligence, and it is not something just anyone can either possess or manufacture, much less harness.
Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)
Think of someone you know not necessarily a celebrity musician who can play more than one instrument, turn their hand to new ones with relative ease, and who may also write their own music. This is musical intelligence. This person will almost certainly have been told that they needed to “get a real job” at some point. You may also find that their life is a little chaotic, a much-maligned trait that seems to manifest itself in the artistic, or creative, more than most.
Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart)
Do you know someone who seems to have a gift fo hospitality? And, who makes you feel right at home, whether on the golf course or at a large gathering where you feel like you are the only one there? And, who not only knows the social queues and mores, but even sets the tone for an evening? Are they able to influence and persuade and not always necessarily with pure motives? This is called interpersonal intelligence and it must be wielded with great wisdom.
Intrapersonal intelligence (Self Smart)
You’ll also know a really intense person, perhaps someone who seems to live in their head? Or, do you know someone who is so self-aware, it might even become debilitating (shyness)? What about that unusual child you know, who seems to possess such self-awareness, they seem like old souls? Intrapersonal intelligence is the skill of knowing yourself. In our look at me, self-promotional, extroverted-oriented world, it can feel that it is a skill that very few possess.
Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart)
Do you know someone who is more at home in the great outdoors than inside? Do they relax by booking a walking or adventure holiday? Are they inspired by explorers or animals? Does your social circle joke about how they could survive an apocalypse? This type of person probably possesses naturalist intelligence. They simply have a fascination and aptitude for all things outdoors and will feel caged and oppressed in a job that requires them to be sitting for long periods of time, inside.
We’re challenging the limiting myths and prejudices around inteligence this month on our Sensei Facebook page. Check it out and share some of our home-made memes!
And, Your Team? Are Your Harnessing Their Multiple Intelligence to Its Best Effect?
While education has some way to go in catching up with Gardener and his successors, who have developed their own variations on his mutiple intelligence theory, we can adapt our workplaces now to hire and develop the right people.
- Have you ever wondered why your sales people aren’t performing as well as others?
- Have you ever watched a trainer struggle to feel comfortable infront of a room of new trainees?
- Is your accounts person just a little disorganised?
It’s possible that each of these people is in the wrong role. You cannot always put it down to the “wrong personality”, “inexperience” or “laziness”. It could be that your hiring and training practices are out of date.
Are You Recruiting and Developing People with the Right Multiple Intelligence for the Role?
- Rewrite job role descriptions that match required and desired skills and knowledge to multiple intelligences
- Rejig job application procedures to discover what type of intelligence applicants possess before you meet them
- Modify the interview process to remove time-wasting questions that are easily answered by reading the application form or CV and instead devise ways to explore that person’s intelligence in relation to the role
- Recruit the right people with particular aptitudes and skills for specific roles
- Provide training that takes advantages of each person’s intelligence
Contact us to help you adapt your recruitment, selection and training processes to ensure that you get the right person for the role and that you develop and take full advantage of the specific multiple intelligence they possess.