The Book Corner - Review

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success by Karl Albrecht

Social IntelligenceSocial Intelligence: The New Science of Success

By Karl Albrecht
Jossey-Bass, 2006

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4 stars: Thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating materialIn a 2006 national survey, 1,000 employers ranked “interpersonal skills” and “communication skills” first and second in a list of mandatory qualities they sought in new hires. Although lumped as “people skills” in common parlance, the author, consultant Karl Albrecht, asserts that what employers are really seeking is something more nuanced and multi-dimensional: “social intelligence.” To Albrecht, it is a single element of the six-sided model of intelligence crafted in 1980 by professor Howard Gardner and coined ASPEAK, for abstract (IQ), social, practical, emotional, aesthetic, and kinesthetic. Gardener’s research formed the foundation for Daniel Goleman’s breakthrough 1995 bestseller, Emotional Intelligence and his subsequent 2006 volume, published a few weeks after this one by Albrecht and also titled Social Intelligence.

In Albrecht’s version of social intelligence, these innate abilities can be measured using five dimensions of assessment, in yet another acronym—SPACE: Situational Awareness; Presence; Authenticity; Clarity; and Empathy.

Albrecht supplies short self-assessment quizzes to measure one’s aptitude in each aspect of “SPACE”—tools that could be readily adapted for use in workshops or the classroom. In a bonus for Career Resource staff or Organizational Development faculty, there’s a multiple-choice assessment section on social interaction style preferences. Based on Jung’s familiar four-part model—Driver, Energizer, Diplomat, or Loner, it could be a very useful guide for teaching students to augment their natural strengths with techniques that mitigate opposing weaknesses. The final third of the book deals with adapting various style preferences in the workplace.

In sum, Albrecht’s Social Intelligence is a simple-to-read, yet thought-provoking response to Daniel Goleman’s 1995 bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, which emphasized intrapersonal skills as the critical key to societal success. Instead, it is inter-personal skills, or “social intelligence,” that is more crucial than either IQ or emotional mastery in fueling success at work in the 21st century. I’d give the book three stars. It’s interesting and valuable, but not something that belongs on everybody’s bookshelf. For people in HR, it should be rated a four.

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