Perspectives A Sensei is a Wise and Thoughtful Teacher

The Age of the Social Intelligent Organization09th January 2017

The Asia-Pacific region is swiftly becoming a critical hub in the global supply-chain of goods, services and ideas — a hub that must be sustained by agile, flexible and diverse organizations.
To make this transition in the face of significant talent supply and retention constraints, Asia’s organizations must become socially intelligent organizations — the kind that embrace collaboration, harness diversity and promote innovation and change.

Even though the Asia Pacific economy may still be dominated by manufacturing and agriculture, it doesn’t make it immune to the social intelligence (SQ) requirement that is now global. Organizations worldwide are trying to figure out how to respond to their market more effectively and more efficiently and so must ours.
A critical element of success is the need to make more of what we already have including the talent that works for us. Among other things, this will require a deeper understanding of what motivates individuals, and how to better utilize the diversity of the workforce, including the various age groups that are now working side-by-side.

The great organizations of the next decade require leaders that are responsive to — and can critically understand — motivation, generational differences and what it is about our uniquely social behavior that will help us work smarter, not just harder.
So what is Social IQ (SQ)? According to social scientist Ross Honeywill SQ is the capacity to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments. Therefore the social organization is one that makes the most of diversity and uses it to achieve strategic goals.

For companies that need to make major leaps forward in strategy, they need to attract the right skills; and to be socially intelligent enough to retain and utilize those skills effectively. The social organization in the Asia-pacific region will provide many opportunities for collaboration, facilitate knowledge sharing to improve the application of skills and ensure employees consistently develop, and be effective at capturing ideas and innovative practices.

Just having a bank of talent with exceptional skills wont suffice. Organizations must develop their social intelligence in order to work harmoniously and as a strong collective, and to develop relationships and networks that will promote the interests of the business over the long term. 

A socially intelligent organization also understands and responds to the context and cultural environment they operate within. They know better what customers want and need and how to make the most of the opportunities around them.

Being a great leader involves two parts - excelling at what you do and figuring out how to help everyone else excel too. Research and surveys into what makes people satisfied in their jobs consistently turn up the same answer: good relationships with managers.

But ‘good’ is different for different employees.  So, what is ‘good’? The socially intelligent manager recognizes this and goes about leading in a manner that is responsive to individual needs, and that embraces diversity of thought and action. 

The kind of leader who runs a socially intelligent workplace would do the following:

  • uses conversations to find out what employees are thinking — not surveys or data points;
  • engages often with different people from different areas of the team or organization to ensure their views are broadly informed;
  • shares their thoughts, ideas and assumptions broadly to find out what information they might be missing; and
  • is open to feedback and acts on it.

The highly directive and transaction-oriented style of management that has become the basis of so many large, successful organizations in the Asia-Pacific region must now give way to a new kind of leadership. One that is more open, transparent and dialogue driven.

The socially intelligent organization also knows what motivates each and every employee, which is different from one employee to another. An organization with high SQ understands what these differences are and uses them to improve retention. A key priority in taking organizational capabilities to the next level is innovative leadership practices that help to retain talent and raise engagement.

Our own research revealed these key differences across the generations:

  • younger workers want more say in the way their organization/team is managed
  • promotion and advancement are key motivators for younger workers
  • younger workers are more focused on the personal, rather than collective, outcomes of their work.

These patterns are just one small element of diversity that managers must understand and leverage to create an organization with high SQ, but they are critical to retaining knowledge in markets of near full employment.

With upwards of three different generations now working side-by-side in many of the world’s organizations, generational diversity is a key challenge for a manager seeking to lead a socially intelligent workplace.

Social intelligence principles provide organizations with tangible ways of managing and harnessing diversity. For organizations and employees to make the most of the opportunity ahead, managers must lead the way. Increasingly, those managers must be flexible and socially intelligent.

Written by:

Anthony Raja Devadoss, SHRM-SCP, SPHRi | Vice President - Asia Pacific
Kelly | BTI Consultants | The Ayers Group - Asia Pacific

Anthony leads the team that brings KellyOCG’s client solutions into Asia-Pacific countries, including Executive Search, HR Consulting, Career Transition and Global Managed Services. With 12 years of experience with the Kelly Group, my role is to provide thought leadership, brand/strategy ownership and industry connection for KellyOCG business practices to infuse organizations with that indispensable competitive edge.

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