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Both intelligence (Bass, 1990) and self-monitoring (Cronshaw & Ellis, 1991) have been shown to be strong individual predictors of leadership emergence in small groups. The present study proposed a potential mediator in the leadership emergence process. Specifically, it was hypothesized that perceived intellectual competence would mediate the emergent leadership process. Undergraduate business students (N = 347) from a large mid-western university participated in an academic assessment center in conjunction with an organizational behavior course. Findings indicated that the proposed model fits the data quite well and mediator analysis demonstrated that the perception of intellectual competence might be an important mechanism for leadership attainment in small groups.