Considering Competition

Psychologist and Science Journalist
The author looks at competition through the lens of emotional intelligence.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: How can we compete more effectively?

 

Daniel Goleman: You look at the stars, top 10% performance versus people who’re just mediocre, just at the average, there’s a way to do a systematic analysis of the capabilities or competencies that stars have that you don’t find at the average. David McLaughlin was one of the developers of this. Really, my work in emotional intelligence looks at that.

Because it turns out, particularly for leadership, most of the competencies that distinguish outstanding leaders have nothing to do with IQ, with academic intelligence. They’re in this other domain. Whether people are getting more competitive or not, more viciously competitive, I think people have always been viciously competitive. However, people who are the most effective tend to be competitive in a different way. They compete with themselves.

As I said, they have very high standards for performance. And they’re continually trying to understand how to learn to do better. And that’s the more effective way to compete. Improve your own performance, not run against the other guy necessarily.

 

Question: What is your critique of Malcolm Gladwell?

 

Daniel Goleman: Here’s the problem with Malcolm’s book. He talks about cohorts that have been privileged by accident, by experience. But… One of them, for example, is, as I remember, Jewish lawyers who were born in the 1930s. Some of them were spectacularly successful. The problem is he didn’t take a sample of all Jewish lawyers born in the ‘30s. There also certainly be failures among them. And his model doesn’t really explain what distinguishes the failures from the outliers.

So it’s a good beginning but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and then the book ended. But Malcolm is a wonderful writer. I really like the book.

 

Recorded on: April 22, 2009