Why are smart engineers typically hard to find in executive management?

Why are smart engineers not becoming top managers? Think of the following example: If the smartest engineer became boss of a rocket project, who would be designing the rocket engine? Right, probably the second smartest engineer. Now when we talk about a rocket we mean hundreds of tons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen in a big tin can. This alone is already scary, now the second best engineer designing any component of it sounds even more frightening… So the best engineer has to do the most important design jobs and because a rocket is big and complex also the second, third and 10000th smartest engineers are needed to design the other components. So only the dumbest is left for becoming the manager; or then you hire somebody who has not a clue about rockets, like someone from business school (Arghh). You see the problem evolving here…

Managers tend to have a big ego. I heard once a CEO say that he doesn’t like to be the smartest in the room because it bores him. Well managers, let me tell you the other side of the story: For a smart engineer it is easier to try to convince a smarter engineer of a solution than a dumb manager. Why? Because the smarter engineer will get the point and is ready to learn, or will prove the smart engineer wrong. The dumb manager would only make a random decision not understanding the problem at hand nor the implications of his decision.

<elvis>