• Purchase a Book
  • Purchase a Journal/Workbook
  • Provide Feedback
  • New Leadership Paradigm

Social Intelligence

Just as emotional intelligence (self-awareness and self-management) help you in relating to yourself, social intelligence (social-awareness and relationship management) helps you in relating to others.

I have defined emotional intelligence and social intelligence in the following ways:

  • Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage, and use your own emotions to guide you in making wise decisions.
  • Social intelligence: The ability to understand, and use the emotions of others to guide you in making wise decisions.

Emotional intelligence requires:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to read your emotions and feelings, recognise their impact on you and others, and use them to guide your decisions.
  • Self-management: The ability to manage or master your emotions so that you can adapt more readily to changing circumstances, and meet your own needs.

Social intelligence requires:

  • Social awareness: The ability to sense, understand and respond to others' emotions in a group situation.
  • Relationship management: The ability to inspire, influence and develop others while managing conflict.

Emotional and social intelligence form part of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner, a developmental psychologist based at Harvard University, has suggested that people display intelligence in eight different ways:

  • Bodily-kinaesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Verbal-linguistic
  • Logical-mathematical
  • Intrapersonal
  • Visual-spatial
  • Musical
  • Naturalistic

Gardner’s intrapersonal intelligence is equivalent to emotional intelligence, and his interpersonal intelligence is equivalent to social intelligence. To fully understand the skills and capabilities required for social intelligence, we need to dissect it into its two main components—social awareness and relationship management, and then dissect these into their component skills:

The skills necessary for social awareness are:

  • Listening: The ability to be totally present to another person, thereby achieving genuine connection. No attempt is made to make meaning out of the situation—you provide only attentive presence.
  • Intuition: The ability to read a situation subconsciously through “energetic” presence. The strength of your connection enables you to know what you need to do in any given situation to achieve a positive outcome.
  • Mind empathy: The ability to resonate energetically with another person so you can experience what they are feeling, know what they are thinking, and intuit their needs.
  • Knowing the rules: Every interaction takes place within a social context that has its own rules. You have to know the rules and live within their boundaries to be effective in your social interactions.

The skills necessary for relationship management are:

  • Body empathy: The ability to respond to another person or group with body movements which convey a strong sense of connection at precisely the right moment.
  • Presentation: The ability to express yourself in exactly the right manner and tone so that you get people’s attention when you need it.
  • Influence: The ability to shape the outcome of an interaction through persuasion using tact and self control to align other people’s motivations with your needs.
  • Concern: The ability to express genuine caring for others through appropriate actions or words. 

A leader needs to be authentic (intrapersonal intelligence), connect with others (interpersonal intelligence), communicate with skill (verbal-linguistic intelligence), and use logic and reason in decision-making (logical-mathematical intelligence). These four intelligences are essential for influencing and persuading. To create internal cohesion in a team, a leader needs to display both emotional and social intelligence. In order to sharpen your skills in this area you may need to employ the services of a coach.


  • Video
  • References
  • Books