SOCIAL Intelligence

Heather: Social intelligence and leadership

Do you know someone who always seems to be able to build rapport with others? Who can walk into even the most high stakes, tense situation with a sense of ease, clarity and confidence?

We've all been in awe of a person who seems to move about the world with this kind of mastery. Chances are they are high in social intelligence – a key attribute of emotional intelligent leadership.

Social intelligence is all about understanding and building relationships with others. If you've been watching my videos on EI, you know EI refers to how we understand and manage ourselves. Skills like self awareness, self management, and motivation – and social intelligence expands on this into our relationships with others.

Why is it important for leadership? The US based Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit strategic research group whose focus is on uncovering emerging future trends. It just so happens that social intelligence is one of their TOP Skills for the future of work.


While machines and robots will continue to replace many routine tasks, they cannot replicate the ability to truly connect human to human. To understand, to empathise, to build rapport, to love, to belong.

The great news is that both EI and SI are learned skills. And the best part, the learning doesn't come from a book or an MBA course, it's from learning, adjusting, evolving from real life personal experiences.

So what are the best first steps to start building your social intelligence? Here are two tips to get started:

Number One: Begin to pay close attention to your interactions with others. Notice the effect you may be having on others. How they may be responding to you. There's no need to judge here or try to change their behaviour – just notice. This is the beginning of building your social awareness.

Number Two: Notice the impact different situations and people have on you. What situations make you uncomfortable and cause you to alter your behaviour? As a personal example, I know that I have a tendency to communicate less assertively with people of authority – it's a lifelong pattern. BUT being aware of this helps me choose to respond differently, to adjust and show up with confidence. Again, it's all about building awareness.

In future videos, we'll continue to explore the skills and practices to develop your emotional and social intelligence. Accept that this is a journey and it's an exciting one. When you approach this with a sense of curiosity and an open mind, you can have a truly positive, meaningful impact on your leadership and your life.

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