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How to Socially Intelligent Interact with People

My leadership coaching clients who display great character communicate clearly and are empathetic. They are authentic in their interpersonal interactions and help people achieve a shared purpose. They are optimistic, inspiring and forward thinking.

One of my law firm Managing Partner executive coaching clients recently shared with me that he was having a hard time influencing several of the firm partners on a new strategy for the firm. We have been working on improving his executive presence including talking less and listening more. He is not great at getting others to cooperate with him, and has a fairly authoritative leadership style.

I asked him “Can you give me a time when you were effective at being more collaborative?” He responded “When I focused more on the partner’s body language and emotional states.” A communication strategy he was working on in our coaching. I suggested that he experiment with listening deeply, and not talking for more than 30 seconds at a time at the next leadership team meeting.

At our next meeting, he reported the partners on the leadership team started to cooperate more. The partners also shifted into listening more, and asking powerful questions rather than presenting endless logical arguments that impeded productive dialogue.

Enlightened leaders know that creating a socially intelligent workplace culture and increases engagement and alignment with company goals. In order for people to be fully engaged, they need to feel they are following trustworthy and emotionally aware leaders.

Social Intelligence

Psychologist Daniel Goleman rocked the world of leadership development with his landmark book, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace (2000), and his theories on EI’s role in business interactions.

In 2007, he followed up with Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, which carried internal emotional awareness into the realm of external social facility.

In the similarly titled Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success (2009), management consultant Karl Albrecht explores how social intelligence plays out in executive interactions. He suggests SI is “a combination of a basic understanding of people—a kind of strategic awareness—and a set of component skills for interacting successfully with them.”

Albrecht defines social intelligence in relatively simple terms: “the ability to get along well with others and to get them to cooperate with you.” He proposes five distinct dimensions that contribute to social competencies:

1. Situational Awareness: A social radar used to read situations and interpret people’s behaviors in terms of possible intentions, emotional states and proclivity to interact.

2. Presence: A range of verbal and nonverbal patterns, to include one’s appearance, posture, vocal quality and subtle movements—a collection of signals that others process into an evaluative impression.

3. Authenticity: Others’ social radar, whose signals lead them to believe we are honest, open, ethical, trustworthy and well-intentioned—or not.

4. Clarity: Our ability to explain ourselves, illuminate ideas, accurately pass data, and articulate our views and proposed actions—all of which enable others to cooperate with us.

5. Empathy: A shared feeling between two people; a state of connectedness that creates the basis for positive interaction and collaboration.

Each dimension of social intelligence requires competencies well beyond the norm. Leaders cannot fake these qualities.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for authentic leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a high performance business environment? Authentic leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How effective am I at shared feelings with other people and creating a state of connectedness for positive interaction and collaboration?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who create sustainable businesses.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a culture where all employees are intrinsically motivated and fully engaged. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams.He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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