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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Why does social intelligence emerge as the make-or-break leadership skill set? For one, leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people.
Technical skills and self-mastery alone allow you to be an outstanding individual contributor. But to lead, you need an additional interpersonal skill set: you've got to listen, communicate, persuade, collaborate.
A leader's competencies are synergistic. The more different competencies a leader displays at strength, the greater her business results. But there's another critically important rule-of-thumb: some competencies matter more than others, particularly at the higher levels of leadership. For C-level executives, for example, technical expertise matters far less than the art of influence: you can hire people with great technical skills, but then you've got to motivate, guide and inspire them.
Specifically, there are threshold competencies, the abilities every leader needs to some degree, and then there are distinguishing competencies, the abilities you find only in the stars.
You can be the most brilliant innovator, problem-solver or strategic thinker, but if you can't inspire and motivate, build relationships or communicate powerfully, those talents will get you nowhere.
Social intelligence is the secret sauce in top-performing leadership.
Lacking social intelligence, no other combination of competences is likely to get much traction. Along with whatever other strengths they may have, the must-have is social intelligence.
So how do you spot this skill set? An executive with a long track record of satisfactory hires told us how his organisation assessed social intelligence in a prospect during the round of interviews, group sessions, meals, and parties that candidates there routinely went through.
"We'd watch carefully to see if she talks to everyone at the party or a dinner, not just the people who might be helpful to her," he said. One of the social intelligence indicators: during a getting-to-know you conversation, does the candidate ask about the other person or engage in a self-centred monologue? At the same time, does she talk about herself in a natural way? At the end of the conversation, you should feel you know the person, not just the social self she tries to project.