Series on Social Intelligence: Toxic vs. Nourishing

Social intelligence, from the standpoint of interpersonal skills, has been described as Karl Albrecht as behaviour which falls somewhere on a spectrum between “toxic” effect and “nourishing” effect. Toxic behaviour makes people feel devalued, angry, frustrated, guilty or otherwise inadequate.

Nourishing behaviour makes people feel valued, respected, affirmed, encouraged or competent. A continued pattern of toxic behavior indicates a low level of social intelligence while a continued pattern of nourishing behavior tends to make a person much more effective in dealing with others; nourishing behaviour is an indicator of high social intelligence.

social leader

Social Intelligence certainly made a difference at one university-based hospital in Boston where two doctors contention for the post of CEO of the corporation that ran this hospital. Both of them headed departments, were superb physicians, and had published many widely cited research articles in prestigious medical journals. But the two had very different personalities.

Dr.Burke was intense, task focused, and impersonal. He was a relentless perfectionist with a combative tone that kept his staff continually on edge. Dr.Humboldt was no less demanding, but he was very approachable, even playful, in relating to staff, colleagues, and patients. Prized talent often ended up leaving Burke’s department for Humboldt’s warmer working climate. Recognizing Humboldt’s socially intelligent leadership style, the hospital corporation’s board picked him as the new CEO.