The Growing Importance of Social Intelligence

In the past, professionals typically devoted their entire careers to companies that valued their functional or technical skills, not their social ones. Today’s lightning-fast business environment demands job candidates who can step into senior management roles in five to eight years, often in decentralized and constantly transforming enterprises, in relationship-based professions like investment banking and consulting, and in dynamic and diverse communities. In such organizations, leadership success is often defined in interpersonal terms: knowing how and when to collaborate or command, how to lead and develop subordinates, or how to manage and empower networks.

Excerpt from the Forward to the book Leading with Kindness
R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson, Professor of Finance and Economics
Columbia Business School


If this is true for effective leaders, and feedback is craved by employees who want to continue to grow and develop, why is actionable, compassionate feedback so hard to provide?

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Whos Got Your Blind Side

Have you ever started to change lanes while driving, and suddenly seen a car appear next to you, seemingly out of nowhere?

In football, it’s the job of the left tackle to protect a right-handed quarterback’s blind side. In business, it is equally important, yet all to often, we lack the coverage for key positions.

Every one of us has a blind side – a default way of seeing a situation. How you perceive a problem has huge impact on how you’ll solve it.


“What you view determines what you’ll do”


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Watch Your Language Crossing the Internal Chasm

Getting a product out the door is no easy feat. Often, ideas and prototypes stall on their way out the door because of a simple tactical error – falling in love with the expression of the original insight.

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore advocates using each customer segment to market to the next one, making adoption less risky and more socially acceptable. Similarly, the most difficult step in gaining internal traction for a disruptive innovation is making the transition between visionaries (early adopters) and pragmatists (early majority).

After uncovering a new market opportunity, product teams need language to describe the new solution. Since the product is the first of its kind, they create their own words to describe it.

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The Idea That Triggers the Most Fear Amoung Product Team Members is Likely the One to Investigate First

Have an idea that scares you? That’s the one to test first. Get out of the building, and see how other people react to it.

Perfect Partners

You might have seen the “Perfect Match” Ad during Superbowl 2013, pairing sexy + smart.
Where the Mac vs. PC ad series contrasted hip and staid, GoDaddy’s ad was quite effective in getting us to see the contrast, and imagine what might happen if sexy and smart were combined.

Designing for organizational effectiveness is like the game Twister. You need to cover as much of the important work to be done with the least amount of contortion and overlap.

Maximize coverage, minimize overlap


Each of us face daily tasks and responsibilities that require more effort than others. Tasks that require underdeveloped skills may leave us feeling stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated.

What’s the secret to personal and organizational effectiveness? At the personal level, it’s about finding your opposite – someone who shares a common goal and has skills and approaches that complement your own. At the organizational level, it may be a complementary project or function.

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Team Effectiveness Tip: “I don’t see it, help me see it”

Authentic communication and understanding are critical to team effectiveness. This is the first of a series of posts on this topic. I hope you’ll adapt and integrate the ones you like into your own team culture.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. –George Bernard Shaw

Last weekend, team effectiveness, development, marketing and agile professionals converged at PlayCamp. I was reminded me of a valuable scrum exercise I learned from Matt Smith called “I don’t see it, help me see it.”

It can be used in an Agile context to clarify user stories, but I also think it makes a nifty habit for teams to ensure everyone is on the same page.

 

How It Works

When someone says “I don’t see it, help me see it” this serves as a signal that whatever was just said is unclear to one or more team members.

 

Mike: [Mike communicates something important to the team he leads or is a member of (v 1.0)]

Alan: “I don’t see it, help me see it”

Mike: [Mike tries again, using different words (v 2.0)]

Alan: “I still don’t see it, help me see it”

Sue: [Communicates it yet a different way using her own words, and/or a visual (v 3.0)]

 

If Alan understands, he’ll tell Sue and Mike he gets it. If not, other members of the team will jump in to clarify. The ensuing discussion ensures all team members are on the same page.