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Management is not a competitive activity, it is essentially a cooperative one.A good manager is like thread in the necklace and not the pearl. He or she is supposed to weave people – a grand generalist bringing specialists together. However, the B-schools, even with their hearts in the right place, have not been able to ingrain this simple concept into the budding managers getting educated in their premises.

And it starts right from the selection process. Most of the aptitude tests and entrance rounds look for smart driven individuals who are competent and competitive. They necessarily pit people against each other, measuring them on areas related to analytical abilityor language skills, and that too onthe same continuum, with little, if any, regard for their ability to get the best out of people around them.

This continues right through the course where they vie for a place in a club, a coveted award, a celebrated internship, a Pre-Placement-Offer, and then a lucrative offer from a zero-day company offering the most envious perks for signing up with it.With due respect to occasional activities that do foster team-work and with due credit to some B-schools which do try to do things differently*, most of them are looking for achievers and not the facilitators who derive vicarious pleasure out of someone else’s success.

This is ironical, since at the end of the day, it is not about ‘how good a manager is’ but about ‘how good someone else is’ in his or her presence. So, what would matter is not their impression but their influence on people.It is about leading people and coordinating their actions in such a way that the ensuing work-climateleaves them with a desire to unleash their potential towards a goal that they feel an alignment with**. This whole process is the essence of being a competent manager.

This conceptual-gap between what B-schools are teaching and the raison d’êtreof a manager can only be bridged by the root-skill of ‘Social Intelligence’. Social intelligence is best defined as‘Observing nonverbal behavior and understanding emotions for greater interpersonal effectiveness and self-management’.

It is the ability of a person to tune into other people’s emotions and read the subtle behavioral cues to choose the most effective response in a given situation.Understanding the neurological roots of our emotions and emotional roots of our nonverbal behavior is what is at the heart of social intelligence.

With typical left-brain orientation that most of the B-schools have got in legacy, the time is ripe for the forward-looking B-schools to pay heed to the future of management, which lies in looking at the humans not as ‘a resource’ but as ‘the source’***. The parlance of the management with its favoriteslike KRA, ROI andEPSwill have to give way to the words like awareness, attunement and adaptability.And on any day, this long-due ‘school of thought’ will both find as well as require the skill of ‘Social Intelligence’ at the root.


* At Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, MBA students were asked to assess their ESI competencies, choose which competencies they wish to strengthen, and be guided by and individualized learning plan for the same. The gains lasted for years for them. Up to two years after MBA, they still showed 47% improvement on self-awareness competencies and 75% for competencies such as empathy and team leadership.

**Researcher Lyle Spencer found that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in company’s revenue.

***Researchers Boyatzis, Goleman& Rhee did an analysis of the partners’ contributions to the profits of a large accounting firm. If the partner had strengths in self-management, he or she added 78% more incremental profit than did partners without those strengths. Likewise, the added profits for partners with strengths in social skills were 110% greater, and those with strengths in the self-management added a 390% incremental profit – in this case, $1,465,000 more per year. By contrast, significant strengths in analytical reasoning abilities added just 50% more profit. Thus purely cognitive abilities help, but the ESI competencies help far more.


Dr. Sandeep Atre (

Founder-Director, Socialigence (

Also the author of books “Understanding Emotions Logically” and “Observing Nonverbal Behavior”