Emotional, Social and Cognitive Competence

Week 3 of the course gets into the meat and potato of what resonant leadership is about. The module began with a reflection of two contrasting individuals. First is a subordinate or person we deeply admire, respect, like and even want to clone in our organizations and in our personal lives. And second, someone whom we wish would vanish and disappear from our personal and professional lives because of their actions, words and/or their mean-spirited nature. As I think back on these two individuals, I mentally categorized them based on their actions, language and specific instances that trigger an intense like or dislike toward each individual. Not surprisingly, the charateristics of the individual I like and wish that my world will be populated with is someone who is caring, respectful, mindfully aware of others and his own emotions, considerate, a team player, compassionate and someone who always had my back. In short, he is my vision of a resonant leader. On the other hand, the other individual seemed to bring out the worst in me as professional and as a person. Talk about emotional contagion.

These two individuals possess different compentencies in their leadership. Competencies, according to Dr. Boyatzis, are “ a set of behaviors…organized around an underlying or unconscious intent that produces effective performance”. There are three main competencies that predict effective leadership and management – emotional intelligence, social intelligence and cognitive intelligence. Example of emotional intelligence include 1) emotional self-awareness, or having the ability to be in touch with their own emotions; 2) adaptability, or being able to handle situatons of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity; 3) emotional self control, 4) positive outlook and 5) achievement orientation.

The second cluster is the social intelligence cluster which revolves around the term empathy. How do we seek to understand others? Do we even attempt to put ourselves in their shoes? Do we try to look at the problem with their lenses and concerns? Empathy is such an intricate concept, but we all know that active listening is a skill associated with empathy. It is listening with our five senses and not merely hearing with our ears. Aside from empathy, the social intelligence cluster also includes inspirational leadership, influence, conflict management, coaching and mentoring and team work.

Finally, the last cluster- cognitive competencies include systems thinking and pattern recognition. Systems thinking is “seeing the world through multiple cause and effect relationships” while pattern recognition is “being able to sense what’s going on seemingly random information”.

These are the 3 clusters of competencies that distinguish between effective leadership or performance and mediocre and/or poor leadership. Speaking of mediocre, the term threshold competencies, is introduced in this module and I am very fascinated by the label and what it illustrated. Threshold competencies are the bare minimum knowledge we have to qualify for the job to begin with. In other words, these are explicit knowledge that can be easily articulated, recorded and shared. Interesting enough, for threshold competencies, having more knowledge does not necessarily translate to outstanding leadership or performance. But what we need to aspire for is to further develop our tacit knowledge base and build on our emotional, social and cognitive competencies in order for us to move toward becoming an inspirational leader.

What are you thoughts about emotional, social and cognitive competencies? What are some ways or methods we can use aside from 360 assessments to identity our strengths in each area? How do we develop these competencies in our daily roles? How do we as adult educators encourage our students and make them aware of the imporantce of developing these compentices in their personal and professional lives?


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