The Incredible Power of Connectional Intelligence

My wonderful friend Erica Dhawan is the world’s leading authority on Connectional Intelligence and the Founder & CEO of Cotential. She was named by Thinkers50 as “The Oprah of Management Ideas” and featured as one of the emerging management thinkers most likely to shape the future of business. And, she is one of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches and I am thrilled to highlight her work and insights in this interview series. We’ll talk about the ideas in her bestselling book Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence, as well as some new management ideas she’ll share in her next book.

In this first interview, we’ll talk about connectional intelligence. What it is as Erica defines it, and how it is different from networking. Below is an excerpt from our interview.

Marshall: I am here with my wonderful friend, Erica Dhawan. Erica is a fantastic thinker. She’s got an undergraduate degree from Wharton and graduate degrees from Harvard and MIT. She is the world’s expert on connectional intelligence. Question for you Erica: How is connectional intelligence different? Tell me what does it mean and how is it different than networking?

Erica: First of all, it’s great to be here, Marshall. Thank you so much again for having me. To answer your first question, what is connectional intelligence, a lot of how we measure relationships, especially in the digital world, is through the quantity of our connections. How many LinkedIn followers we have, how many twitter followers, and so on.

In my work and research, I have found that we need to shift our notion from quantity to quality because in today’s overconnected era, having a lot of networks doesn’t necessarily lead to measurable change. The key is to develop the skill of cultivating the connections you already have to drive breakthroughs.

Connectional intelligence is the skill to enable and leverage the connections you already have to create value. So, just as game changing as emotional intelligence was in the nineties, in today’s era of digital connection, we can’t just rely on EQ when most of the time we’re not in a room with one another.

We’re working on global virtual teams. We need to figure out how to really tap into the power of our networks in new and different ways. Oftentimes we find that some of the greatest ideas are deep within our own relationships. We need to be willing to be curious, to ask, to be courageous, to think about new ways of leveraging those networks and forging communities that create big results.

Marshall: I love it. And you know, one thing I love about what you’re doing is that it is consistent with the idea of learning from everyone around you. Yes, we do live in a connected world and it’s a great opportunity to learn from people around you. And what I like about what you’re doing is it goes beyond just the numbers. Thank you!

If you want to learn more about Connectional Intelligence from Erica check out her new online course on Udemy, Get Big Things Done: Become a Standout Collaborator


Our new book, Work Is Love Made Visible: A Collection of Essays about the Power of Finding Your Purpose from the World’s Greatest Thought Leaders, edited by Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Sarah McArthur was published October 23, 2018. The #1 New Release in Business Management on Amazon,Work Is Love Made Visible is available now on Amazon and!