Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

The Socially Intelligent Workplace
In recent years, despite the best efforts of many to deny it, one of the most important shifts in business leadership has been the shift from a focus on hard skills and business acumen, to a focus on soft interpersonal skills and personal resonance. In essence, the soft skills are the essential new hard skills.

The reality is, the traditional hard skills are the "price of entry" into any business. You simply can't play the game if you donít have the hard skills. However, numerous research studies have indicated it is a person's proficiency in the soft skills that will ultimately allow them to excel in the leadership of a successful organization.

For years, armed with this new knowledge, understanding and awareness, many smart organizations dove head first into studying their employee's competency in what was believed to be the only measure of their soft skill capability - Emotional Intelligence, or EQ.

Emotional Intelligence is defined as "the ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and then manage the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups". However, that definition has proven to be too narrow because the emphasis of EQ is placed on assessing the emotional state of one's self, or another person, in isolation.

Daniel Goleman, the "father" of EQ has recently released a book titled "Social Intelligence" ,that addresses an important missing component - the social relationship between the participants in any conversation or interaction. He now believes that organizations should focus their efforts on "Social Intelligence" or SQ.

Youíre Not Alone

Take a moment.

Look around your office.

Most likely you will notice one thing - other people.

The reality of business is that in order for "business" to actually take place, there must be some time of social exchange between at least two people. Therefore, there is no question that Goleman has unearthed a profound new insight on an old piece of information for business leaders. He is essentially reminding us of the fact that if your people are lousy at social interaction (or even if they are just less than stellar) in terms of their dealings with internal and external customers, you have a serious business problem.

IDEO co-founder Tom Kelly came at the issue from a different angle. He states that organizations that believe in the "Lone Genius" are doomed. Goleman would agree. Innovation, organizational change, and peak performance are brought about by the seamless, candid, effective social interactions between team members.

Elements of SQ

Social Intelligence (SQ) can be broken down into two broad categories.

The first is "Social Awareness", the ability to sense what is going on around you. The second, called "Social Facility", deals with what we then do with that awareness.

Each of these categories are then broken down into sub-categories:

Social Awareness includes:
  • Primal Empathy - sensing non-verbal emotional signals
  • Attunement - attuning, through listening, with full receptivity
  • Empathic accuracy - understanding the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others
  • Social Cognition - having an understanding of how the social world works

Social Facility includes:
  • Synchrony - effective non-verbal communication
  • Self-presentation - making the desired impression
  • Influence - shaping the outcome of interactions
  • Concern - caring about others' needs

The outcome, therefore, of competence in each of these elements translates into an individual with a high level of Social Intelligence.

Social Corrosion

Why is Social Intelligence racing to the forefront of business today?

Well, take this moment as an example. You are, no doubt, staring at a computer screen, not talking to another person. Youíve probably sent and received dozens of e-mails today, but can you say you have had a true conversation with anyone?

T.S. Eliot once wrote that "television permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome." The same can be said about the computer monitor, at least from a Social Intelligence perspective. In many cases, managers are not taught the most essential skill to execute their single most fundamental role - to lead their people. Therefore, developing an ability to get out and effectively interact with others socially will ultimately determine the great from the good.

**In Our Opinion

The Beacon Groupís Key's to Developing your Organizational Social Intelligence

Open Doors - Better yet, take them off the hinges. As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Therefore, if you find your organization tends to be constantly heads down, fixated on the immediate task at hand and with everyone working in isolation, youíve got a problem.

Speed Dating - Everyone is busy. Cut your Town Hall meetings in half, and spend the time as if it were a speed dating session. Have employees rotate through discussions to allow knowledge about the business to spread more quickly

Limit emails - Meetings arenít the answer, but neither is pure email communication. Encourage employees to actually spend time talking with their Team Members. In the case of cross-functional teams, it will promote knowledge transfer and build new connections in the various departments.

Recruit and Train for SI - While there isn't an assessment to measure SI readily available, understanding the concepts behind it and implementing hiring practices, and training curricula based on the fundamentals will help increase your organization's SI.
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