It used to be that we would judge someone’s potential for success by their IQ — how “smart” they were. But then someone figured out that a person’s ability to understand and get along with others was just as important — in some cases more important — as their ability to, say, solve complex math problems. And so the term “emotional intelligence,” or “EQ,” began to gain traction.
Recently, a third type of intelligence has been introduced. Social intelligence, the ability to navigate complex social relationships and environments, rounds out the triumvirate of types of intelligence necessary to succeed. In an article called “The Must-Have Leadership Skill,” Daniel Goleman explains why today’s leaders need social intelligence just as badly as they need the right degree, knowledge, and experience.
The article got me to thinking: Can leaders develop social intelligence? What, exactly, comprises, social intelligence? And how do leaders develop social intelligence?
The good news is that, in my opinion at least, social intelligence can be learned and modeled.
Here are three ways to build social intelligence:
- Encourage leaders to converse with employees. Instead of issuing commands and orders, build a culture where leaders ask for ideas, opinions, and input. This will help leaders better understand the thoughts, needs, goals, and desires of employees. The more leaders understand, the more information they have to manage relationships.
- Hone the communication skills of leaders. This means not only talking, but developing good listening skills. The more a leader listens, the more he or she can merge the thoughts and opinions of employees. When employees feel as if they matter, it increases engagement, productivity, and ultimately profits.
- Help leaders understand what motivates employees. Build a culture in which they truly care. When a leader understands what motivates employees, they not only understand why they behave and act as they do and are able to minimize workplace conflict, they can use this information to get the most out of them by playing to their strengths.
Today’s leaders need social intelligence in order to inspire, motivate, and develop the skills and potential of others. It’s a crucial talent, and your leaders must possess it in abundance. When it comes to determining the efficacy of your leaders, make sure you find a way to measure their social intelligence. Then, develop a plan of improvement for those not quite up to par.
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