People who are good connectors thrive in our hyper connected relationship and information driven world. It’s a unique ability defined as “connectional intelligence.” People with strong connectional intelligence share their resources and knowledge. They understand how to tap into the resources available to them. Simply put, they are connectors. When they hear about a job perfect for someone they know, they make the introduction. They are the people on Linkedin with 500 plus connections who actively network within a multitude of groups. They focus on bringing value to a situation rather than what they can get from it. They acknowledge the importance of data and utilise it.
Globally recognized leadership expert on the multigenerational workforce, Erica Dhawan coined this term to go beyond IQ and emotional intelligence to tap into the power of making connections as a vital part of today’s digital workplace. In our hyper-connected world, everyone is within our reach. We have moved from an age where information was coveted and scarce to an age where information is widely available and open. The ability to leverage data, not hoard it, is a critical skill in order to thrive and succeed in today’s workplace. Connectional intelligence describes this ability.
Recognizing their own inherent value as well as the value of others, connectors live by the mantra “we’re only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.” Constantly looking for opportunities to improve, they continually expand their networks. As a result of these behaviours, they become the go to people. They also amass lots of information in the process. In our data driven world, the people who understand how to apply and to leverage the information available to them recognize data as its own currency. People with strong connectional intelligence aptitude have the inherent ability to effectively lead departments and teams to meet the demands of today’s work environment.
Managers who apply connectional intelligence to their work recognize the individual strengths of team members and then utilise those attributes to achieve goals. They recognise the assets available to them and then play to those strengths while being cognizant of potential pitfalls and weaknesses. They also apply data to problem solve and increase efficiency. Learning how to tap into available resources makes managers more effective as well as increasing the overall effectiveness of the department.
In a multi-generational workforce, connectional intelligence is the critical skill that managers apply to draw upon the particular strengths of individuals instead of forcing conformity to a singular set of values. Connectional intelligence sees relationships as a web instead of as a straight line or pyramid. It draws upon a lateral style of management instead of top down. Managing baby boomers, Generation X and millennials in the workplace requires being able to utilise the various generational behaviours and thought processes of each demographic. It leverages the unique strengths and attributes of the individual. Millenials are recognized for this kind of intelligence. Thanks to social networking and web 2.0, it appears to be wired into their DNA. But it is a skill all successful people innately understand how to harness.
Connectional intelligence is also about a willingness to have the difficult conversation. The ability to mine for data is a part of using this particular attribute. It requires being unable unearth the hidden information or the material that is a source of conflict. You have to be able to talk about the uncomfortable stuff. In order to make wise and effective decisions, it is vital one is able to gather all the facts in order to make an accurate analysis.
This intelligence requires understanding your context. You want to accurately assess the dynamics of the group and the environment in which you work. It is your ability to connect in order to thrive and to think outside the box to solve problems. By utilising connectional Intelligence, you can consistently deliver breakthrough results by harnessing the inherent value of your relationships and your networks.
Caroline Stokes is founder of FORWARD Human Capital Solutions. FORWARD does things differently for people in digital organisations who demand inspiring talent solutions for transformative results.