Characteristics of a Social Intelligent Leader

January 31, 2021

There are a plethora of definitions offered by authors and writers about what makes a person a good leader. Many believe that excellence, ideas, principles, and the measure of success achieved makes a great leader. Despite these qualities, the ability to know oneself and others and how to react determine the quality of one’s leadership. This trait is called social intelligence.

According to Sean Foleno, social intelligence is a person's competence to optimally understand one’s environment and react appropriately for socially successful conduct. This can be reflected in situations like knowing when to talk or listen, what to say, and what to do.

Communication influences a large part of the work that is done within teams and determines the level of efficiency and productivity. Socially intelligent leaders recognize this and weaponize this in handling day to day business and managing people. In responding to people’s behaviour, they are concerned with the motivations for the actions rather than the action itself. This is a better way of understanding people and reacting appropriately rather than causing unnecessary conflict.

This is extended to how a socially intelligent leader will react to criticism. In a case where a member of a team, customer, or client criticizes them, they do not react by denying it. Instead, they accept feedback and find a way to review the experience and make it better for all parties.

Also, in dealing with the feelings of people they engage or work with, socially intelligent leaders validate rather than dismiss people’s feelings. They recognize the fact that it is important for every member of the team to feel included and relevant. They put themselves in the shoes of those they are dealing with and act in the same way they would like to be treated.

Leaders are required to be aware of trends and innovations. For socially intelligent leaders, they recognize the need to focus on the durability of the products of the trends and the foreseeable longevity rather than the need to be trendy.

The nature of leadership involves problem-solving and people management. This means that problems crop up all the time. Social intelligent leaders do not see problems as roadblocks. Instead, they see them as opportunities to review the entire plan and draw out workable solutions. The pattern leaders adopt in reacting to issues determine the atmosphere of the workspace and the growth of the business.

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