‘Social intelligence’ trumps ‘emotional intelligence’

If you thought that achieving emotional intelligence was enough to be a good leader in your organisation, you were wrong – according to the educators at the Australian Leadership Development Centre.

The centre, which runs lectures and courses in social intelligence, argues that it is the real key to enhancing leadership impact. And a lack of social intelligence is a key reason why leadership careers derail.

It is not that emotional abilities are not important to leadership – they are, but two recent research studies, says the centre, have shown that it is a leader’s ability to lead through relationships that has the largest effect on their impact as a leader.

The centre says that researchers Hogan and Hogan, who have written extensively on leadership derailment, say that leaders fail when they are either disliked or distrusted by their staff – limiting their ability to get work done through others.

All of this echoes the findings by the Conference Board, best known for the Consumer Confidence Index, that relationship building will be one of just four critical roles of the future leader, while failing to build such relationships through arrogance and insensitivity will continue to be one of the four most important career derailers.

Social intelligence, says the centre, involves far more than just being nice. In fact an excessive need to please and be liked is considered to be socially unintelligent and is a specific derailment factor. Rather, social involves an intelligent balance:

  • Being confident without being arrogant.
  • Being genuinely interested in others while still focusing on results.
  • Empathising and moving people forward.
  • Tapping people’s hearts as well as their minds.


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