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The core skill of a leader is…

..social intelligence.

Q: What’s the shortest distance between two people?
A: Laughter

What’s that got to do with leadership?

Empathy – understanding how others tick and being able to connect with them – is at the core of Emotional Intelligence, or ‘EQ’, as the psychologist Daniel Goleman calls it.

Goleman uses laughter as an example of a powerful connection (flowing directly from your limbic system to the other person) that by-passes the brain and creates an instant sense of shared experience.

We now know, from Goleman’s books such as Primal Leadership, that being highly competent won’t make you an effective leader unless you have Emotional Intelligence; the ability to connect with people emotionally and create that sense of shared experience. EQ triumphs over IQ, his research shows.

Goleman’s latest work, published in the Harvard Business Review this month, goes further and explains how and why followers actually ‘mirror’ how their leaders behave.

Now, in tough trading conditions, when you need to keep people engaged and their performance high in the face of uncertainty, you need Social Intelligence more than ever as a core part of your leadership. ‘Social Intelligence’, says Goleman in a new article in the Harvard Business Review this month, is the outward-facing aspects of EQ; a sub-set of Emotional Intelligence if you will. It’s how you relate to others. Social Intelligence includes these seven leadership skills, says Goldman:

1. Empathy
2. Attunement
3. Organizational awareness
4. Influence
5. Developing others
6. Inspiration
7. Teamwork

Action: Goleman’s new paper in the HBR ‘Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership’ says you can ‘train your brain’ to develop Social Intelligence – the ability to connect with others positively to develop a high performance, highly co-operative team. Even if you feel you are not a natural at making emotional connections, his research suggests you can rewire your own brain by consciously working at it. His workshop at Leaders in London later this year will explain how to do it.

Click here to:
watch a short video interview with Goldman
link to a summary of the article
read the article itself if you have time (about 20 minutes), and
view a table that shows the seven leadership skills and explains them, so you can pick out which ones you are strong at and which ones need work.

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