How socially intelligent are you?

by HCA05 Jun 2017
Interpersonal effectiveness can have a significant impact on an individual’s success – or failure – as a leader. Neuroscience is proving that many of these skills can be taught, as HRD discovers

Does this sound familiar? Your CEO corners you in the meeting room and says, “Let’s have a chat”. Your mind jumps to the conclusion that the upcoming conversation is going to be bad.

Or this scenario: You get along with most people but there are some people who just really annoy you – you just don’t click.

Why is it that in certain circumstances we either assume the worst or don’t work at our peak?

Neuroscience is providing insights into brain function and cognitive biases – and it’s these insights that form the foundation for the Social Intelligence Group’s range of programs that have been created to help leaders cope with the business challenges of today. As the company name suggests, the concept of social intelligence is embedded in everything it does. Luke Ross, Director of the Social Intelligence Group, says social intelligence is the ability to create cooperative relationships with others. It’s important to note that it is not a stable trait but something we learn and decide to use or not use on a daily basis.

“Intelligence and personality don’t account for much of your success, but your daily behavioural decisions do,” he says.

“Additionally, you can’t really change your intelligence and personality traits, but you can change your social intelligence.”

What follows is an outline of four popular social intelligence programs, all of which have been developed by a team of registered psychologists. They are evidence-based and specifically designed for the corporate workplace. Each course combines an online multi-rater assessment with a practical training program to teach individuals how to be more agile, resilient, emotionally intelligent or behaviourally versatile. The assessments are psychometrically valid and meet the reliability and validity standards set out by the various psychological associations across the globe. The Social Intelligence Group delivers the programs or certifies your L&D professionals to deliver them.

Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency
The word resilience is thrown around with abandon in many businesses today, and while the sentiment behind a desire to build more resilient employees to cope with constant change is often well intended, the execution can leave something to be desired – many programs create awareness of resilience factors but don’t show people exactly how to be resilient at work. For Ross, it’s no surprise that resilience is so talked about in business today. He says it has been shown to be connected to success and life satisfaction.

However, there are a number of myths that surround resilience. For example, most people believe they are either resilient or not. In truth, sometimes we are resilient and sometimes we are not.

“If you look over your own career you will see times when you have been resilient and times when you have not,” says Ross. “The difference is that your mindset and behavioural response at the time determined
if you thrived or not in those situations. We all have filters and ways that we act that determine if we are resilient or not.”

Importantly, Ross says it’s possible to teach people to overcome these filters or barriers, and thus rapidly increase their resilience in the workplace.

“I’ve seen it happen instantly – it is about adapting your thinking and behaviours,” Ross says.

The Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency program teaches people to have an adaptive mindset to change and counteract the brain’s natural way of dealing with stress. It is the only program of its kind that uses a multirater assessment to determine an individual’s resilience strengths, followed by a pragmatic skills program to help them become more resilient at work – many people are unaware of their resilience strengths and do not know how to be resilient more often. Participants leave the Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency program more motivated and more skilled in being resilient more frequently. The majority of participants find the program increases their workplace productivity, company engagement and overall life satisfaction.
EQ, or emotional intelligence, is a critical part of a leader’s ability to lead others. The Social Intelligence Group’s Behavioural EQ program teaches participants how to perceive the emotions in themselves and, most importantly, what to do with that understanding. The program is called Behavioural EQ because the majority of the focus is on what you need to do with your EQ. “It is based on a validated model of EQ that is connected to workplace success – as opposed to what someone thought would be good to include in the model,” says Ross, who adds that many of the EQ programs on the market do not predict success, and high scores on the assessments do not relate to high work performance.

Adaptive Mindset for Agility
Aside from resilience, other key terms in business circles today are innovation and agility. “We define personal and organisational agility as the capacity to recognise, create and exploit opportunities in a changing environment,” says Ross, who adds that while the benefits of being agile and innovative are well established, there remains a problem.

As adults, many of us have suppressed the ability to be agile. One longitudinal study conducted on kindergarteners showed that 98% of them scored at genius level in their ability to generate many solutions to problems. But, over the course of time, this capacity dwindled such that, by age 10, only 30% scored at genius level and, by adulthood, only 2% scored at genius level.

“We develop a range of cognitive biases that stop us being innovative,” Ross says. “This course helps to unlock this agility at the individual level, thereby creating agile organisations. It shows people how to undo the barriers and biases that stop them being agile, because close to 80% of agility is learned.”

The Social Intelligence Group uses a simple but effective model with the acronym

IDEA to ensure that fresh ideas and innovative thinking move beyond just the ideation stage and instead result in tangible business outcomes.

“When most people think of creativity and innovation, they just focus on idea generation,” Ross says. “However, an idea without implementation is just a good idea.”

The key aspects of agility are:

I – Investigate new opportunities
D – Design new solutions
E – Energise support for the ideas
A – Apply the ideas in the real world

“Without all parts agility does not exist. Agility is actually seeing an idea from creation to implementation,” Ross says.

Many people believe that they cannot be agile, but this not true. Everyone has the ability to be agile, and in the Adaptive Mindset for Agility program we show them their barriers by using a multi-rater assessment of IDEA, and then teach them simple strategies to overcome these barriers.
Luke Ross outlines three hurdles:

1. Self-perception bias
“Many people have an overinflated view of their skills, and understanding that you are not as agile as you think you are is the first barrier to overcome. People need to know what to work on to become more agile, which is why we use a multi-rater of agility.”

2. Tunnel-vision bias 
“Many people are so focused on solving the problem at hand that they just invent new solutions to old problems. They don’t investigate as much as they should; they are very anchored in their mindset. The most agile teams and individuals find unexpected opportunities because they look widely.”

3. Past-experience bias
“Our brains look at the world and compare new experiences to old experiences, and then we decide what to do. But our brain tricks us and makes us focus on the similar aspects, not the different aspects which would lead us to think in different ways.”

Social Style and Versatility
It’s critical for leaders to earn the support and respect of those who work for them. Leaders who do not have support and respect find it difficult to achieve organisational objectives or create sustainable team performance. However, many leaders do not have an accurate understanding of the support and respect they have earned.

This is where the Social Style and Versatility course adds value. The program shows leaders how to earn support and program is that the resulting performance improvements are observable, measurable and immediate. It’s not uncommon during the one-day program that participants will behaviourally profile an individual they are having trouble with, and then use the tools to develop a different way to deal with that person. Additionally, 63–70% of participants use the tools within one day of the program without reminders or reinforcement. Ross says the program has been used by 3,508,403 individuals globally and is in place at most global consulting firms and many iconic global organisations, yet “Australian corporates just don’t know much about it”.

Much like social intelligence in general, it appears the potential benefits are just starting to be realised.

The Social Intelligence Group is the authorised master trainer and distributor for Tracom in Australia and New Zealand. They provide trainer certification and delivery of the Tracom Social Intelligence Programs: Social Style and Versatility, Behavioural EQ, Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency and Adaptive Mindset for Agility. Tracom is the original creator of the Social Style and Versatility model and has also recently created the Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency, Agility and Behavioural EQ programs and assessments. Visit or phone 1300 471 765.