We wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post on social intelligence after Stephanie from idealawg brought to our attention the October 11 New York Times Maureen Dowd column “How Carly Lost Her Gender Groove.”
With several of the few high-profile women at the top tanking, it’s interesting to note that Columbia Business School has introduced a new program that teaches the importance of a more empathetic and sensitive leadership style in globalized business, as opposed to the command-and-control style that has dominated the White House and Pentagon for, lo, these many messed up years.
Students learn how to read facial expressions, body language and posture, and get coaching on their brain’s “mirror neurons” — how what they’re thinking and feeling can affect others.
“This less autocratic leadership style draws on capabilities in which women are as good as men,” says Michael Morris, a professor of psychology and management who is running the business school’s new program.
Daniel Goleman, whose new book “Social Intelligence” is being taught in the program, points out that “while women are, in general, better at reading emotions, men tend to be better at managing them during a crisis. Women tend to be more sophisticated in reading social interactions but also tend to ruminate more when things go wrong.”
Mirror neurons are found in the inferior frontal cortex, close to an area involved in language processing, speech production, and comprehension called Broca’s area. They provide a fairly accurate mechanism for understanding action, learning by imitation, and copying other people’s behavior. They also may help understand goals and intentions. According to a hypothesis put forward by Christina Keysers and Valeria Gazzola, shared circuits translate observed actions, emotions, and sensations into primary representations of these states in our own minds that we can then analyze and reflect upon in order to understand the other person’s state of mind. Being able to access and analyze these simulated primary representations allows us to go beyond just empathy to successful interaction with other people and showing highly developed social intelligence.
Social Intelligence and the Frontal Lobes