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Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

By TLF Research

“Emotional Intelligence” sold more than five million copies worldwide. In his new book, Goleman draws on the new science of neuro-sociology to extend his concepts from a business context to the wider world of social relationships. Goleman describes social intelligence (SI) as the interpersonal part of EI and maintains that since most organisations function like a society, SI has fundamental implications for how leaders can build a positive culture.

According to Goleman, we are all wired to do two things at work:

Get on, i.e. compete

Get on with, i.e. collaborate.

For decades leadership has been based on getting on, competing effectively to climb the company hierarchy. Three recent trends are over-turning this tradition. First, many organisations are becoming much flatter. There are consequently few middle management positions, not as many rungs on the ladder. Second, the world is much more networked. Whether through email, texts, blogs or formal social networking sites, people maintain relationships with a far wider circle of contacts. Third, deference to those in authority is falling. Increasingly, leaders need to use consensus rather than command to manage. This all means that success for leaders and for those working their way up is increasingly based on networking – understanding and serving the needs of the people in the network and displaying the behaviours that are valued by network peers as well as leaders. Succeeding in this world, says Goleman, requires highly developed SI.

Resonant leadership

In view of the inter-related web of personal relationships, Goleman argues that it’s the job of the leader to harness employees’ positive emotions, a task that goes beyond good communications and even empathy. Calling it ‘resonant leadership’, he maintains that leaders must communicate their message in a way that moves others, although he also emphasises that it’s not enough to be a good communicator. Effective leaders will also walk the talk. Goleman thinks this is even more important in a recession. He labels the opposite of resonant leadership as dissonant leadership and gives the example of a leader who fails to properly understand employees’ emotional reaction to current uncertainties. They may do this by not communicating enough, by under- or over-reacting to threats facing the company or by not recognising employees’ concerns. Goleman cites three behaviours in particular that will help them to achieve a resonant rather than a dissonant leadership style.


Employees must be confident that their leaders see the big picture, not just for the company and its future success but also for its people. They must convince the workforce that they understand all the things that affect employees.


Individual employees are of course interested in their own personal situation and want their leaders to be as well. Leaders with good SI will make individual employees feel that they are genuinely interested in each of them as a person.


It’s no good having understanding and being interested if you never actually deliver. To be fully engaged, employees therefore need to trust that they will always be able to count on their leader giving them real help if they need it.

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