A friend, Beth, was engaging in a mild whine about her job, specifically, her boss. “She’s just so….well, smart. It’s driving me nuts.” That got my attention. How can someone be too smart? Beth’s boss is exceptionally bright, knows the industry, and has a varied background that effectively prepared her for the knowledge aspects of her work.

So what could be wrong? Beth explained that her boss – we’ll call her Samie – is totally focused on the numbers. She has no interest in the culture, including politics, relationships and morale. Sami’s impressed by raw and functional intelligence. That’s it. None of that fluffy people skills stuff.

What’s great is that Samie’s unique skillset enables her to accomplish much of what the organization values. In fact, perhaps she was placed in this job because of her knowledge, even though she didn’t have much emotional intelligence.

Samie may also be isolated from feedback and connections with others, so she has let her interpersonal muscles get weak as she leaned into her core strength of knowledge and experience.

Samie’s not alone. Low empathy bosses “spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them. It’s so easy to get out of touch that leaders’ EQ levels sink further. It truly is lonely at the top.”

Regardless of whether Samie can’t or won’t engage that way, it probably isn’t worth my friend’s time to try to change her boss. It’s unlikely to be successful. Instead, there may be another key team leader who fills this connecting role and has the authority to make organizational health a priority. If not, maybe it’s time for Beth to consider a reassignment to a more people-friendly workplace.

Have a strategy for dealing with numbers-only leaders? Comment below or message us here.

Photo by Timothy Muza on Unsplash.