Would you guess? “Nearly 2/3 of employees surveyed, responded that they would prefer a better boss to a higher salary.”- Social by Matthew Lieberman
Social, by Matthew Lieberman discusses groundbreaking social neuroscience regarding our need to be connected to others and the implications of social pain and pleasure. From a workplace perspective, the book presents information from Gallup regarding the cost of poor leader-employee relations, stating they are “costing the U.S. economy $360 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.”
Why? Lieberman suggests unhappy, disengaged employees find ways to, “slack off in hard to detect ways and are less likely to generate or share new ideas.”
Social discusses the significant impact of social capital (the concept of social connections and social networks) and how it directly links to organizational success. He emphasizes that one’s ability to use social capital effectively optimizes their intelligence and technical know-how and directly influences productivity. Social capital and human capital (the amount of intelligence, experience, and education) essentially work synergistically. Human capital alone isn’t enough to increase productivity and yield organizational success.
Interestingly, when it comes to leadership, Leiberman presents research by John Zenger, a leadership expert, to demonstrate the importance of social skills to leadership effectiveness and high performance. In the study, Zenger asked thousands of employees to rate their boss on leadership effectiveness. Based on the ratings, the bosses were then divided into five categories: great/top 20%, good/middle 60%, and bad/bottom 20%. Intuitively, his findings make sense. The categories were highly predictive of business outcomes such as: profit, employee satisfaction, turnover, and customer satisfaction. Zenger then identified five leadership competencies associated with improved leadership performance: 1) personal competence, 2) focus on results, 3) character, 4) leading organizational change, and 5) interpersonal skills.
Zenger’s results demonstrated that good interpersonal skills in combination with the other leadership competencies enabled leaders to optimize their leadership performance. Zenger found that if an employee rated their boss as very high on the competency, “focuses on results,” there was a slim chance (14%) that the boss would be included in the top 10% of leaders group. Yet, if the employees rated their boss very highly in both, “focuses on results,” and “interpersonal skills,” then the leader had a significantly higher chance (72%) of being rated in the top 10% of leaders group.
Lieberman suggests in many cases, social skills are more important than personal competence. He asks the question, if we know social skills are so important, then why aren’t they universally a major criterion in the hiring and promotion of leaders?
Social isn’t the first research-based book to point out the importance of social connections and social skills in the workplace; there are countless others. Further, everyday there are numerous business articles published online from HBR, Forbes, Inc, etc. discussing the importance of social and emotional skills in the workplace. These skills are key differentiators in identifying high performers and predicting organizational success.
The question is… what is your organization doing to make sure social and emotional skills are considered in: 1) hiring candidates, 2) providing professional development for employees focused on Human to Human interactions (H2H), and 3) the promotion process?