Leadership Training & Ministry: Developing Social Intelligence
My first leadership setback was fuelled by my inability to build the right social structures and relationships. I was building walls around me to protect myself from others. Later on I learned that I needed to build bridges, not walls. In order for me and for all of us to build bridges to other people, we need to grow our social capital.
Social capital is referred to by social sciences as the assets we build through our interactions with others and the networks we create in building these relationships. Having social capital will bring benefit to all parties involved in terms of connecting or networking together, being accessible to others’ points of views and input, communicating, collaborating and being accepted in a community of practice.
People develop their social capital by pursuing numerous and
strategically positioned ties with others, thus creating brokerage
opportunities and bridging gaps with others in order to enhance their potential
and effectiveness. Therefore, in order to become more effective as a leader, I
needed to learn how to connect with many people from all walks of life and from
disparate parts of the organisation. This increased my sphere of influence and
eventually my leadership effectiveness.
To develop my social capital I needed to develop my social intelligence in the following areas:
1. Situational awareness – This is the ability to read the situation, size up the emotional and cultural needs of the people and the situation in which we find ourselves. The more in tune with people’s emotions and cultural needs, the better we can relate to them, and therefore the greater social capital we accumulate and the more leadership influence we can impart.
2. Presence – My withdrawal from the team was one of my downfalls. They jokingly made me a chart to indicate my presence or absence. I was not aware of the situation then nor of the importance of this action on their behalf. Now, I know that I needed to be present with them. Presence to me means that I need to be physically, emotionally, and intellectually with them when they need me. I need to connect with them as I listen, interact, empathise and relate. Lack of presence reduced my ability to influence and lead. My ability to be present in many situations afterwards allowed me ample opportunities to influence and lead change.
3. Authenticity – In order for me to become a better leader, I needed to learn how to be authentic: not only in the way I speak and communicate, but also in the way I connect and empathise with people. I needed to learn to collaborate with full consideration of their needs and intentionally strive to help them achieve their goals and objectives. To enhance my social capital, I had to learn to not only be authentic about my beliefs and values, but to also be authentic in how I love and care for my team members. Once they see that I am real and genuine in my efforts and concerns for them, they will allow me to influence and lead them.
4. Clarity – One of the most important lessons I have learnt over the last decade is about clarity. To increase my social capital, I needed to have clarity in my thoughts, my words and my messages that I was communicating to the people around me. To be considerate and communicate well, I not only needed to be clear with my words, but also my actions: my body language and follow-through needed to back up my words so that the whole message was clear and not confusing or ambiguous. I became clear and concise in my words. I steered clear of what may be considered offensive words or phrases to certain people in certain situations. I reduced my value-laden words and blame-loaded phrases. I changed the positioning of my statements from the “You …” to the “I …”.
5. Empathy – Early in my career, I was caring and sympathetic, but I was not a very empathetic person. So when my team was suffering from a lack of leadership I did not understand what they were going through. All I was concerned with was what I was going through and what I was feeling. I have learnt since then, that in order for any leader to connect, to be considerate and to co-labour with team members, he or she needs to be empathetic to their needs, emotions and feelings. When I started applying this to my communication with my team members, I started to connect with them at a deeper level, they started to respond to my leadership and me in a more positive way and to perform their work at a higher level.
Leadership potential will become more real and tangible to us when we develop and apply our social intelligence skills and create greater social capital with the people around us. As we create a community of practice we need to use our social intelligence skills more and more and this gives us the opportunities to connect with, influence and lead others.
Haddad, A. (2016, February 3). Leadership Training & Ministry: Developing Social Intelligence. Retrieved June 2018, from the HBC Web Site.