Social Intelligence And The Biology of Leadership


or, “Why Barack Obama Might Have a Better Chance at Reaching The Oval Office Than John McCain”.

I came across this article in the Harvard Business Review this morning. Brain function has always been interesting to me, as is leadership development, so naturally I was drawn to the material within.

Leaders who have true empathy with their followers not only connect with them figuratively, but researchers have discovered the brains of both the leaders and the followers become “fused” into a single neural system.

The authors of the article also list the seven characteristics they identified for social intelligence. They have developed an assessment tool for CEO’s, managers, leaders, etc – anyone willing to take the steps necessary to plan for and improve their social intelligence. Here they are:

  • Empathy
    Do you understand what motivates other people, even those from different backgrounds?
    Are you sensitive to others’ needs?
  • Attunement
    Do you listen attentively and think about how others feel?
    Are you attuned to others’ moods?
  • Organizational Awareness
    Do you appreciate the culture and values of the group or organization?
    Do you understand social networks and know their unspoken norms?
  • Influence
    Do you persuade others by engaging them in discussion and appealing to their self-interests?
    Do you get support from key people?
  • Developing Others
    Do you coach and mentor others with compassion and personally invest time and energy in mentoring?
    Do you provide feedback that people find helpful for their professional development?
  • Inspiration
    Do you articulate a compelling vision, build group pride, and foster a positive emotional tone?
    Do you lead by bringing out the best in people?
  • Teamwork
    Do you solicit input from everyone on the team?
    Do you support all team members and encourage cooperation?

May the man with the best social intelligence win!

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