Considering Competition

Psychologist and Science Journalist

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Working as a science journalist, Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half.
Goleman’s latest book is Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. The book argues that new information technologies will create “radical transparency,” allowing us to know the environmental, health, and social consequences of what we buy. As shoppers use point-of-purchase ecological comparisons to guide their purchases, market share will shift to support steady, incremental upgrades in how products are made – changing every thing for the better.
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, was published in 2006. Social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence, can now be understood in terms of recent findings from neuroscience. Goleman’s book describes the many implications of this new science, including for altruism, parenting, love, health, learning and leadership.

  • 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

 


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