The social skills, including social expressiveness, social sensitivity, and social control, are expected to contribute to such leadership processes and outcomes as public speaking, coaching, effective listening, and impression management.
Existing research has demonstrated that emotional expressiveness is a key component in charismatic leadership, and it is related to a leader’s ability to inspire, and presumably motivate, followers via the emotional contagion process (e.g. Groves, 2006; Reichard and Riggio, 2008).
Finally, social sensitivity, which is a combination of effective listening and ability to decode and
Understand social situations, seems to be critically important for a leader’s success.
Common sense and some research evidence suggest that highly developed emotional and social skills should give leaders a decided advantage. To this end, we have conducted workshops and other training programs to assess and develop individuals’ emotional and social skills. Initially, this work was done with the “general population,” such as groups of students and workers.
Two broad approaches for measuring emotional and social skills:
- Performance-based assessments; and
- Self-report measures
The self-report assessments can be bolstered by using a performance-based measurement instrument, such as the Interpersonal Perception Task (IPT), which is a videotape of actual live scenes of social interactions designed to measure sensitivity to emotional, nonverbal, and social cues.
Feedback is very important in honing emotional skills in particular because nonverbal cues of emotion, unlike verbal statements, are subtle and occur outside of normal spheres of awareness.
There is little doubt that “people skills” – ability to communicate effectively, to manage social interactions and social relationships – are critical for today’s successful leaders. To conceptualize these critical leader abilities, this paper draws on early research on emotional and social skills in psychology, and demonstrates how an emotional and social skill framework both relates to and can play a role in the development of effective workplace leaders.
The parallels between the emotional and social skills framework and the new construct of emotional intelligence, and the older construct of social intelligence, are noted. We suggest that emotional and social skills can be targeted for assessment and development and can be an important component of a leadership development program. Research evidence suggests that emotional and social skills are both related to leader effectiveness and are able to be improved through training interventions.