Smart people solving complex problems. That`s how we typically view University researchers. But that description does not really do them justice. I would suggest that there is lot more to the work they do than simply research.
I watch a number of researchers at our institution manage incredibly challenging research projects. The complex problems they solve are not just related to the research issues. For example, they have to raise money to fund their work, much like a business entrepreneur raises venture capital. The process of acquiring the funding requires diplomacy and a solid rationale for why they need the money. Ultimately, they have to navigate a complex labyrinth of funding agencies to source the capital.
Once they get their funding they have to hire staff, develop infrastructure, and create functional processes to operate the research. Just like managers of any start-up company, they have to manage their research organization. Because their work is highly innovative, they must lead an entity with a high risk profile - another example of leadership talent.
On top of all this entrepreneurial skill, they perform leading edge research. So researchers are not just smart people solving complex problems. They are also smart entrepreneurs managing complex organizations.