Coaches working in 21st century businesses increasingly work with highly intelligent coachees who have exceptional technical skills but get bogged down in detail while finding the people side of work something of a mystery. Often informally referred to as “geeks”, they might also be understood as “high IQ/ low EQ”. In Myers-Briggs terminology about 60% will yield INTJ, INTP or ISTJ typologies. There’s a good chance these coachees are in STEM (Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians) roles or other specialist occupational groups including lawyers, actuaries and accountants. The term “supergeeks” is often used to refer to those who are either particularly brilliant or in key leadership roles.
“Supergeeks” have included world-changing identities, for example Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In popular culture, they are represented by characters such as Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory), Gregory House (House) and Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
“Supergeeks” are characterised by incredible strengths business cannot do without such as: brilliant, unique thinking; logical rationality; expert knowledge; insatiable appetite for difficult technical problems and conscientious persistence. Challenges can include: different “big picture” thinking; resistance to change and social awkwardness. This profile has clear qualitative similarities to that seen in people with features of Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of neurodiversity, which has been subject to extensive research over the last 20 years. Without any need for giving out clinical labels, this new knowledge can be applied by coaches to differentiate their practice to get best outcomes for their coachees and the businesses they work for.
Did you know?
In 2013, the word “geek” beat “selfie” and “twerk” to become Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year. In the 2011 edition, “geek” was defined as “a boring and unattractive person”. Geek is now defined as “a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a specific subject”. “Geekery”, “geek chic” and “geekdom” were also added. Quoted in The Guardian in December 2013, Consultant Editor Ian Brookes said: “This change in meaning represents a positive change in perceptions about specialist expertise, and is a result of the influence of technology on people’s lives. The idea of future generations inheriting a more positive definition of the word ‘geek’ is something that Collins believes is worth celebrating.”
Masterclass: Coaching Supergeeks by Top Stream in London, May 2015. Find out more here.