Harvard Business Review’s September 2008 issue ran an article, “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership,” by Daniel Goleman.

The emphasis of the article was the emerging body of accumulated evidence in behavioral neuroscience that provides a biological underpinning for social intelligence, including the concepts of “mirror neurons,” which reinforce connectedness, and “oscillators,” which synchronize people’s physical movements and thus further reinforce social circuitry.

“Certain things that leaders do – exhibit empathy and become attuned to other’s moods – literally affect both their own chemistry and that of their followers.”

“Leading effectively is….less about mastering situations – or even mastering social skill sets – than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.”*

Powerful stuff. Makes me sit back and reflect on my own leadership style.

I know I love people. I care incredibly deeply about my Team Members, my Customers, my Community, and all the Stakeholders to whom I owe a fiduciary duty. I embrace stewardship leadership. I take my responsibilities very seriously. The mantle of leadership does not rest lightly on my shoulders.

At the same time, I burn with intensity. I am passionate and committed to what I do and I am not always patient with those who do not share or exhibit that same “fire in the belly.” My wife, who loves me enough to be honest with me, tells me sometimes I “beat up on people.” That may be a result or a perceived message**, it certainly is not the intent. How to retain the passion yet be more effective? Be sensitive, empathetic to the message being received? The best dosage of intensity? Even a crop in need of water is not well served by a flash flood.

This posting is a reflective one, more contemplation on my personal challenges in growing as a leader, meditations to further self-awareness.

Closing Quotes:

“If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.” — President John F. Kennedy

“Knowing others and knowing oneself, in one hundred battles no danger. Not knowing the other and knowing oneself, one victory for one loss. Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle certain defeat.” — Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”

“There are certain emotions that will kill your drive: frustration and confusion. You can change these to a positive force. Frustration means you are on the verge of a breakthrough. Confusion can mean you are about to learn something. Expect the breakthrough and expect to learn.” — Kathleen Spike, Master Certified Coach


* Caveat: The power of social intelligence is undeniable; it is a soft skill that can deliver hard results. Social intelligence, like anything else, is not the be all and the end all. Hard skills, hard scientific knowledge, and the disciplined application thereof are equally if not more important. Balance is crucial. No matter how much you bond, no matter how good everyone feels, no matter how often you sit in a circle, hold hands, and sing “Kumbaya,” if you design a bad O-ring, the Challenger explodes, or if the Firestone factory lacks rigorous quality control, tires fail and people get hurt.

**I know, I know: “The meaning of any message you send is the response you receive.” I blogged on it! We teach what we most need to learn. I write this stuff so people will hold me accountable.