Why Having “Social Skills” Doesn’t Make You a Better Manager. What?

Let's dig a little deeper

Some of our most profound creative decision making comes with regard to our social situations. I came across this article on the business net regarding social skills and emotional intelligence. The author, Kimberly Weisul concludes:

“After reading all these studies, I can’t help but think that emotional intelligence is sort of like beer. A mean person doesn’t become nice when they have too much to drink. They just become a mean drunk. In the grand scheme of things, I wonder how much use emotional intelligence really is in a workplace setting. If women have more emotional intelligence than men, it might only matter if women are also nicer than men. Such an imbalance seems pretty unlikely, to say the least.  But would you be better off working with someone who’s extremely pleasant but might have ulterior motives, or with someone who’s obnoxious but has a good heart?”

Does this mean that emotional intelligence doesn’t count for much. There is another way to look at this:

I feel that one needs to dig a little deeper. My understanding of I.Q is that it is a measure of our ability to solve problems that have only one correct answer.  Much of our testing for school admissions are built on this kind of examination. While this headline is aimed at the manager having social skills is definitely a plus for the employee.

Our relationships are much more complicated than a one way is the best way. E.Q is a measure of one’s ability to identify a number of solutions to a social problem  and to select the best one.

I think to assume that a person with a high E.Q means that  that person can see a wide range of choices and that’s it,  fills only half of the equation.  It also involves selecting the better choice and deciding what makes it “better.”

For example, let us assume that you are working for a boss that you do not like and you love everything else about  your job and lifestyle. You have a wide range of choices to work on. For example you could try to get your boss promoted or transferred. You could try to get your boss fired.  These efforts of course produce an unknown outcome in that you may end up with an even worse boss or be canned.

You could consciously try to change the way you interact with your boss and see if that produces a change in your bosses behavior.  Or you could reframe yourself into accepting your boss for who he or she is and decide that you won’t let his or her behavior affect you.

Any of these choices produce an outcome, but which do you choose? I feel this is the true measure of emotional intelligence. If you choose the reframe path, and can make the emotional change then you have accomplished perhaps the best of all of possibilities because you have made the change internally and it has nothing to do with your boss.  In the example above mentioned by Ms. Weisul were you to successful reframe yourself you wouldn’t have to worry about whether your boss has ulterior motives or is obnoxious with a good heart.

So sometimes a difficult person in our lives is a teacher at another level, forcing us to make growth changes we might not otherwise address.

If you are the boss then the issues are different. You might have a range of behaviors available to you to gain results, but ultimately the culture of your organization sets the tone. It seems like finding the highest principles to operate from produces the best results. But we can cover that in an additional post.

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