Leveraging Social Intelligence through Your Independent Professionals

By MBO Partners | August 4, 2023

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Key Points

Social intelligence plays a crucial role in the workplace, contributing to individual success, overall team dynamics, and the organization's overall performance.

Social intelligence is a critical success factor for many independent professionals because it helps them grow their businesses.

It can be useful to make sure socially intelligent independent talent are in roles that take advantage of their people skills.

Business management experts have used the term “intelligence,” preceded by different qualifiers, to describe a range of soft skills that are important in today’s workplace. Social intelligence, as the term is currently used, is an umbrella for others such as emotional and cultural intelligence.

Social intelligence plays a crucial role in the workplace, contributing to individual and collective success, overall team dynamics, and the organization’s overall performance. Somewhat synonymous with “people skills,” social intelligence is the ability to effectively understand, interact, and communicate with others, demonstrating empathy, emotional intelligence, and adaptability in social situations. It is not innate. Though some people may have characteristics that allow them to easily learn how to be socially intelligent, anyone can develop the needed skills.

Generally, social intelligence fosters a more harmonious and productive workplace. It facilitates team and leader effectiveness, making it an invaluable asset in today’s complex work environments. Organizations that prioritize and cultivate social intelligence in their teams are more likely to thrive and succeed in the long run.

6 Characteristics of Social Intelligence

Because social intelligence encompasses a great part of how people operate in the world, the list of its characteristics can be long. Here are six that make a difference and can be observed in the workplace.

1. Communication

Socially intelligent individuals can express themselves clearly, listen actively, and understand the needs and perspectives of others. This can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts within the team.

2. Rapport

Socially intelligent workers can establish rapport with colleagues, clients, and superiors. Such positive relationships can lead to increased trust, cooperation, and collaboration, ultimately boosting productivity.

3. Collaboration

Social intelligence helps team members cooperate, respect each other’s differences, and leverage diverse perspectives to achieve common goals.

4. Conflict Resolution

Workers with high social intelligence can navigate difficult situations, address conflicts diplomatically, and find win-win solutions.

5. Emotional Intelligence

Emotionally intelligent individuals can recognize, understand, and manage their emotions. This skill is valuable in handling stressful situations, motivating team members, and responding empathetically to the needs of colleagues.

6. Cultural Intelligence

Socially intelligent people are sensitive to cultural differences among their co-workers. They respect different viewpoints and workstyles and learn how to adapt to such differences in the ways they interact with their colleagues and managers.

6 Signs of Social Intelligence in Your Independent Talent

Social intelligence is a critical success factor for many independent professionals because it helps them grow their businesses through effective working relationships. Having such individuals on your team can help facilitate team interactions and productivity. It can be useful to make sure that their roles take advantage of their people skills.

Whether you are vetting independent talent for engagement or already have high-value independents on your team, here are six signs of high social intelligence that you can look for.

1. Active Listening

People with social intelligence pay attention, ask relevant questions, and demonstrate that they accurately understand what is being said.

2. Adaptability

Socially intelligent workers can adapt their communication styles to different situations and personalities.

3. Emotional Regulation

The socially intelligent can manage their emotions effectively and avoid reactive or impulsive responses.

4. Interpersonal Skills

Observe and assess a person’s ability to build rapport and establish connections. Socially intelligent individuals tend to be engaging and easy to talk to.

5. Cultural Awareness

Workers with social intelligence are clearly mindful of cultural differences and respectful of people’s work styles.

6. Self-Improvement

In addition to being open to learning about and adapting to different cultures, socially intelligent workers are open to personal feedback and committed to continuous learning to improve their skills as professionals and as people.


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