Social Intelligence and Leadership

6 min readJun 29, 2022


Photo by Michael Barnes on Unsplash

I’m happy to have Dan Goleman as my guest today. Dan is a world-renowned psychologist noted for his expertise in social and emotional intelligence. He is also a co-author of the Harvard Business Review article “Social Intelligence in Leadership Biology.” Dan, welcome to the show.

We asked you to discuss the impact of social and emotional intelligence on companies and leaders. Therefore, let’s start from the beginning. Also, how we regulate our emotions, whether we allow them to interfere with our ability to concentrate and successfully complete tasks, and empathy, recognizing other people’s emotions, understanding how the other person perceives things, how they feel, and using all of this to communicate effectively with others.

He needed to improve his social intelligence, such as his ability to listen and tune into people. Even when you know a great deal, you don’t know everything. This is a major issue for many CEOs. As a consequence, people begin to listen, but the truly good and outstanding leaders we recognize are those that listen first and encourage others to voice their thoughts and knowledge. Then, it’s time to bring everything together for higher order integration. This is how genuine leadership seems.

That is what he needed to learn, and with coaching, he was able to adjust and improve the performance of his organization. His unit’s performance increased dramatically as a result. As a result, a leader’s emotional intelligence has an impact on organizational performance. We have ten years of data from organizations of all sizes demonstrating a direct correlation between the emotional intelligence of leaders at all levels and how that organization performs by whatever performance metric you want to use, but it appears to me that leaders frequently believe they have more emotional intelligence than they do.

How can you start assessing your emotional intelligence? I believe we all feel that our emotional intelligence is bigger than it truly is. As it turns out, we are not the best judges of how we affect others; thus, you may ask other individuals at work. If you can encourage others to be honest, they can identify your strengths (we all have them) and areas where you can grow. And it is the most important information since it is the area in which any leader may grow by becoming a better listener.

Because you rely on people for success, being a more effective leader requires enhancing your listening skills, aiding them in their growth, and assisting them in doing their responsibilities effectively. This is fascinating, Dan. You mention emotional intelligence, and I’m curious how you arrived at social intelligence. When I first wrote about emotional intelligence, it was in response to an important breakthrough in brain science on our understanding of the emotional centers of the brain and how they influence our capacity to think clearly.

It turns out that when we are agitated, our capacity to digest information and think creatively suffers. We become dysfunctional as a result of over-learning primitive behaviors, but if we’re passionate about what we’re doing, if we’re motivated or in the grip of positive emotions, we think very clearly, so there was an immediate and obvious implication for business there, and I wrote about how my new work on social intelligence has been stimulated by the same big breakthrough in brain science. They are now researching not one, but two brains in one body in one individual.

They’re discovering that this is the key to understanding why a leader like Herb Kelleher at Southwest was so incredibly successful in building the airline. We were watching a video of Herb Kelleher strolling down the hallway at Love Field in Dallas, and it seemed as if there was a circle of positive sentiments around him wherever he walked. Passengers, staff, and passers-by- Light up and be because he was someone that engaged people, was optimistic, and made you know that he was tuned into you and was there for you. He did it with such optimism that it was contagious for you.

What about leaders who lack that natural-born instinct? How can they apply your emotional and social intelligence findings to strengthen their leadership skills? To begin with, our research demonstrates that social intelligence is important in leadership. The ability to tune in to other people and read their minds is the highest social intelligence. The good news is that we can change our behaviors, for example, what type of listener are you? We learn such at a young age. We may modify them at any time if we are motivated, know what to do, and have some assistance, therefore there is a simple five-step approach for growing social intelligence abilities in a leader.

The first thing you ask yourself is, “Do you care?” If you do not, you are likely the worst person to evaluate your areas of improvement. You must question the people around you in a manner that encourages candor and candor, which is typically accomplished with a 360-degree device that allows them to rate you anonymously. You are hearing the truth, but you are uncertain who said it.

Your strengths, your weaknesses, the areas in which I can develop, the areas in which I can improve, and the areas in which I can get greater results, and then you establish a learning agreement with yourself to do it in the most ideal manner at every naturally occurring opportunity. How can a company then utilize social intelligence to improve organizational performance? Currently, a significant number of businesses employ this method. I had just arrived home following a morning spent with a group. We are a national insurance firm, a global pharmaceutical corporation, or a medical institution of international repute.

We are all doing the same thing with emotional intelligence. They utilize it to increase the efficacy of their leadership and alter the culture. They are doing so by embedding it inside the HR function. They are seeking candidates with these skills. This was the strategy Southwest adopted. They searched for persons who resembled little Herbie Kellehers, and the strategy was effective. Their plan was successful. They encourage these abilities. It becomes part of how you are evaluated and what is desired when promoting folks to the next level of the organization.

They’re also working hard on individual development to help everyone increase these skills. To recap for our current audience, emotional thinking differs from logical reasoning. Social intelligence, also known as emotional intelligence, is concerned with self-mastery and how you behave, and it produces remarkable individuals.

There are many wonderful individuals in the workplace, but they are thus due to their own efforts. They have excellent discipline. They are highly motivated. They are motivated. These are individual qualities, but when it comes to leadership, your success is dependent on the effectiveness of everyone else. So you must succeed by influencing, convincing, developing, inspiring, and motivating others.

Empathy and competent engagement are required for social intelligence, and this is what distinguishes a great leader. Dan, one of the most difficult issues that businesses have is determining how to recruit people since it is so tough to hire individuals and know what their emotional and social intelligence levels are, so how do you go about it? Well, I’m looking for small Herb Kelleher’s.

To begin with, if you’re searching for a Herb Kelleher type, you need to broaden your criterion because social intelligence does not usually appear like that. Rapport is clear evidence of social intelligence. You are at ease with the individual. You have the impression that they are completely focused. You have the impression that they are paying close attention to you. They’re really tuned in. They are truly sympathetic. That’s something we’ve all experienced. We believe you have chemistry. That is one of the tell-tale indications.




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