Humans are social animals and from a biological perspective the human species is identified as the Homo sapiens. Humans always are part of different social groups or societies; one can think about companies, industries or ecosystems. The Homo sapiens, amongst others, differs from other species in that they have a larger brain. This larger brain allows them a) to innovate rapidly and b) also allows them to imitate these innovations in a speedy and purposefulness manner. Humans in general do not behave or operate unconsciously, but they constantly seek to achieve goals, are social learners who envision long term plans, energetically explore their environments and constantly undertake new initiatives or projects.
SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE FIVE BASIC SOCIAL CAPABILITIES
Humans are members of different social groups and this allows them to survive. More concretely: when people work in groups they conserve energy and allows them to spend their conserved energy on their most essential tasks or projects. In addition, just because one person performs one task that the other person in the group can focus him/herself on another task. In doing so, people create social networks within their own organizations or with customers. In order to operate within these social networks people need to nurture five essential or basic social capabilities.
These five basic social capabilities are conceived as the HOW within the ExploreMe model and consists of the following dimensions:
1) self-renewal about one’s own expertise;
2) seeking nurturing social connections with others (bonding);
3) formation of political alliances in groups;
4) showing courage during social challenging situations;
5) demonstrating thought leadership in the market
A BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE, OR HUMANS IN ESSENCE ARE ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS
A biological perspective about human behavior entails the ability of a specie to adapt to its environment. Indeed, Charles Darwin once eloquently stated that “not the strongest specie survives but only those species that can adapt to their (social) environment”. This ability to adapt to the environment within the field of neuroscience is called “neuroplasticity.” We will apply this “adaptation process to social environments” to “knowledge brokering” -- such professionals who adapt to customers or colleagues. In addition, we explicitly state that the just mentioned five basic social capabilities are vital to engage in knowledge brokering, can be trained or acquired and they are not instinctive.
KNOWLEDGE BROKERING AND COMMERCIAL LEADERSHIP
We developed a holistic model of knowledge brokering process which consists in HOW and WHY commercial professionals act and think. We conceive this HOW as the essence of knowledge brokering and only then do we focus on the way in which the why influences the knowledge brokering process. Knowledge brokering is the essential building block of the ExploreMe model and implies, amongst others, that a commercial professional is able to have prolific conversations with customers or colleagues about their field of expertise and from there they recognize problems and issues by customers for which they seek co-create solutions. Actually, the ultimate goal of a commercial professional is that he seeks to achieve a higher position at the long tail performance distribution. Having attained such a position, the professional attract lots of attention from other professionals such as customers whose desire it is to validate their business insights with thought leaders. All this constitutes what we conceive as undertaking commercial leadership. In the end this commercial leadership allows a professional to initiate commercial projects with key customers or strike more business deals. This continuously developing of ideas and knowledge requires resiliency; hence the term of our book (in Dutch) “The resilient professional.”
It is important to offer examples of what we mean by knowledge brokering as it is a relatively new concept in the business literature. Examples are: being able to have a productive conversation with a customer, explaining to a colleague what will be the future direction of the organization, writing a blog on Linkedin, delivering a speech for customers, being able to listen to customers and seeking to understand what actually are their core issues, conversing about new solutions with customers which might solve their problems, attending a conference in order to develop social networks with people unknown to you; attentively listening to speeches from thought leaders about the technological developments in your industry, starting an innovative project with your customers, being able to identify important members of a buying centre and developing enriching relationships with them.
By taking a holistic perspective about knowledge brokering it is possible to enhance our understanding of the mental processes involved in knowledge brokering but also allows the understanding of blockages which inhibits goal oriented behavior related to knowledge brokering. Based on these insights people can improve their commercial leadership capabilities. Indeed, quite frequently, commercial professionals encounter mental obstacles, make fundamental judgment errors or experience social anxiety. By taking the ExploreMe test, you will be able as professional to discover some mental processes that inhibit your performance, you will be able to understand better how to respond to social challenges and how to improve your performance all which allows you to better cooperate with customers and colleagues.