Social Quotient and its biological relevance to Leadership


“When we focus on others, our world expands”

  • Daniel Coleman                                                       


Social Quotient now also being referred to as Social Intelligence Quotient is the ability of a person to manage people and to know how to present oneself, what to say and what not to say in a social situation (Wikipedia).  It helps one to extend boundaries and is acquired during their lifetime through various experiences of success and failure in social settings. It is basically the capacity of an individual to know/understand oneself and read their surroundings and act/react accordingly. It is also often termed as “street smartness”.



People with high SQ usually exhibit the following traits:

  • Such people are known to possess "social expressiveness skills” which basically means they can interact/communicate with anyone and everyone and that too in an appropriate manner.
  • They supposedly are excellent listeners. They listen to others attentively.
  • They pay attention, analyse situations and understand others’ behaviour and then react as required.
  • They can easily adapt in various social situations and know how to play the various social roles in the so called “game”.
  • Their observatory skills enable them to know people better and understand what grabs their attention further enabling them to act accordingly.
  • They are aware and take care of what impression they exude on others. They supposedly are very particular about it too. They try to create a balance between the “image” they portray and their true self. It is hard to portray oneself as something and at the same time remain “authentic”.


Social Quotient is all about what the future beholds for us and how we enhance ourselves to survive socially. It is to comprehend upon the situation, figure out the best way to achieve a favourable outcome.


Social intelligence has a biological underpinning to it as well. A lot of what a person exhibits is dependent on the social circuitry in the brain which consists of mainly three kinds of cells i.e. mirror neurons, spindle cells and oscillators.

Mirror neurons enable a person to mimic or mirror what the other being does. These neurons play a vital role in organizations as their presence prompts the followers to mirror their leader’s feelings and deeds. Recently in a study conducted by Marie Dasborough it was observed that if a set of employees are given a positive feedback but with a lot of negativity and another set are given a negative feedback but with positive signals, the former was reported to be feeling worse than the latter. This also shows that the delivery of the feedback was more important than the feedback itself. This also showcases that the feelings of the reviewer were reciprocated or mirrored by the reviewee which is a result of the activation of the mirror cells.


Another important set is the spindle cells. Intuition or the “gut feeling” is a result of these cells. These are triggered when the best of the choices is to be made i.e., we need to choose as our gut guides us. Listening to their intuition is a must for leaders provided it is attuned to the mood of others. Oscillators showcase this attuning physically. It regulates how the bodies of the involved ones moves together. The presence of these definitely strengthens the social impact of a person and there is no clear-cut method as well to strengthen these cells. There is also a risk that a self-conscious attempt to display such social intelligence can backfire. The only way to develop this circuitry is by taking efforts and working hard to do so. There has to be a behavioural change for the same to happen. Social skills are definitely a requirement for leaders and if unfortunately, not proactive biologically, has to be developed through hard work and behavioural changes.

  • One such method could be review from peers, higher-ups and working upon the same. Seeking external help in this case could prove to be beneficial as it provides a direction to work upon.
  • Listen: People with high social quotient are good listeners too. They don’t just listen to respond but truly pay attention to what the other person is saying. Try and and develop a habit of listening to others.
  • Develop good conversational skills as in order to be socially impactful you need to interact with people. To carry on any conversation, one must have good conversational skills.
  • Pay close attention to who or what is around you. Socially intelligent people are very observant of their surroundings. They are attentive of the subtle social cues from people around them.
  • Work on your emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is about having a control on your emotions and how you empathize with others. When you know how to recognize and regulate an emotion in your own self, you can learn how to do that in others as well. Working on EQ(emotional quotient) can help you recognize and control negative feelings such as frustration and anger, which is very important in a social setting.


It’s not like you are not going to mess up in your life but improving upon these skills will definitely help you lead and easier life wherein you won’t have a problem in putting forth your opinion, or interacting with new people.


“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action.”

-Daniel Goleman

Blog Writer: Divyangana Mittal



1.      Beheshtifar, M. &Roasaei, F.. (2012). Role of social intelligence in organizational leadership. European Journal of Social Sciences. 28. 200-206.

2.      Riggio, R. (2014, July 01). What Is Social Intelligence? Why Does It Matter? Retrieved September 03, 2020, from

Amy Morin, L. (n.d.). Strategies to Help You Develop Social Intelligence Skills. Retrieved September 03, 2020, from

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