What is Social Intelligence?

Social intelligence is the capacity to effectively negotiate complex social relationships and environments. Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey believes, social intelligence, rather than quantitative intelligence, that defines humans.

Social scientist Ross Honeywill believes, social intelligence, is an aggregated measure of self and social-awareness, evolved social beliefs and attitudes, and a capacity and appetite to manage complex social change.

The original definition by Edward Thorndike in 1920 is ‘the ability to understand and manage men & women, boys & girls, to act wisely in human relations’.

Why is it so important?

Studies have started two decades back on social intelligence and its effect on leadership. It is very important in current and future prospect, especially if we look at India in relations to rest of the world.

India is going to have one of the youngest workforces in the World, comprising of more than 60 per cent Gen Y. This generation is different because of its overall social connect, socio-economic upbringing, overall atmosphere, political influence, education, etc. For a people leader, it is more than just a mere demographic figure.

It would be very important for all the entrepreneurial leaders, to be able to lead this intelligent generation. Sometimes these leaders may have followers or team members, who are more intelligent socially or otherwise. Handling them would be fun. We are aware that just by a click of a button, things can change. Technology is a great leveler. As per my findings, this generation; learns to be part of a team and enjoys team-work. They are good in it as they use social media and on line simulations, connecting in the virtual world, across the globe. I strongly believe that we need to use technology effectively and other tools efficiently, to manage this and next generations.

How do you measure it?

To measure social intelligence and develop a people leader on the same, ideally we should use behavioral assessment tools, which measure our emotional and social inventory. How do we reach to people and situations is very important? It is the reflection of our behavior socially.

A 360 degrees’ instrument where you get varied levels of feedback can also be used to measure social intelligence. a 360 degrees should be used for training need analysis and not for reviews. You, leadership team, and your organisation should be mature enough for it.

Seven social intelligence measurement qualities?

I have been through various studies, and have shortlisted seven social intelligence qualities. To make it easy for each one of the readers, I have used a questioning format. This is an intent to enable each of the people leaders, to evaluate themselves on the scale of 1 to 5, on each of these questions and make their own developmental plan:

  1. Empathy: Do you really as a people leader understand different backgrounds of your team members? Do you understand what motivates your team, and individually your team members? Are you sensitive to other’s needs?
  2. Organizational awareness: Do you understand the Zen of the organisation, its leadership team, and their core values? Are you being your team aligned to the core values? Do you appreciate the culture and values of the organisation? Does your group align to the same? Do you understand social networks and especially in current world, their unspoken norms?
  3. Attuning: Do you understand other’s feelings? Do you listen attentively? Are you attuned to others moods and their swings? Can you handle these mood swings of your team?
  4. Influence: Do you get support from the key people? Do you get support from your team? Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussions? Do you appeal your self-interests or team interests?
  5. Inspiration: Do you love to bring the best out of your people? Do you articulate the vision and align your teams to it? Do you align your individual team members to the big picture? Do you build group pride and foster a positive emotional quotient?
  6. Team work: Do you support each and every team member? Do you celebrate each other’s success? Do you solicit input from everyone in the team? Do you encourage cooperation and defend week link? Do you encourage ability to say no, and provide alternatives or support each other?
  7. Developing others: Do you provide feet-forward? Are you open to feedback yourself? Do you coach or mentor others? Do you personally invest time and energy in team? Do you provide help in professional development? Do you erase fear to fail?

These are very simple questions, though some of them are very critical keeping in mind the next generation. For example, youngster’s like their bosses to be a coach or a mentor, and not a boss. The success of an organisation would depend on the ability to erase the fear of failure from next generation, and then building in an ability to listen to NO. Most leaders I have met, believe that fear to fail is one of the critical components of doubt in the mind and start of failure.

I urge you to go through each question again, rate yourself or alternatively take 360-degree feedback, and make your own development plan. A good leader always upgrades himself.

Success would depend on how groups and societies map the environment (ecological, social and personal) into a social structure. How is that structure able to contain a worldview? How are decisions made and many more? Unfortunately, most references to social intelligence relate to an individual’s social skills. Time has come when we need to change the same.

IQ, EQ, and SQ… are all equally important for our overall development. Would be addressing these in detail in my second book ‘Hungry People’ ‘Better Results’. .