Summary of Connectional Intelligence: Which Type of Connector Are You? An interview of Erica Dhawan, by Marshall Goldsmith

Summary of

Connectional Intelligence: Which Type of Connector Are You?

An interview of Erica Dhawan, by Marshall Goldsmith

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Article available at:

Summary by: Brandon S. Brown

In this short (5 minute) video, Erica Dhawan, the Founder and CEO of Cotential, and the world’s authority on "Connectional Intelligence," discusses the three types of connectional intelligence and the connectors that make it happen.  Ultimately, the different types are important because in today’s complicated world, it is less about being a connector and more about the act of connecting intelligently with our available resources. Although this article isn’t specifically about conflict or conflict transformation, it applies to those fields, because peacebuilders, really, need to be “dot connectors” as much as they need to be any of Dhawan’s other three types of people.

Dhawan identifies three types of connectors that are needed to lead “dream teams” today:

  1. Thinkers.  These individuals are great with ideas. They bring different ideas together and use curiosity and courage to think in new and innovative ways.
  2. Enablers.  They can be viewed as community builders, people who know how to bring together all the right people in the right ways.These are your traditional networking types of individuals.
  3. The Executor.  This person is the one who is great at mobilizing both ideas and people alike.

It is important to remember that Connectional Intelligence is not about being the best at these three categories yourself. It is about being able to design a team that leverages your style as a leader—finding which category that best fits you —and then creating opportunities to surround yourself with individuals who are equally good at the areas where you may lack.  Dhawan encourages people to really get in tune with their own  individual style and be “mindful of tapping into the diversity of (your) network and skills that are different than (yours) as (you) are build teams to get big things done.

Essentially, knowing how to tap into available resources and find the answers is much more important and valuable than having them yourself. Translated into peacebuilding, this suggests that peacebuilders should learn how to be the connector between the local and outside “thinkers” who have ideas about how to transform the conflict in the region; enablers who know who the “right people are” to accomplish a peacebuilding project, and “executors” who bring the ideas, resources, and people together.  The peacebuilder—a dot connector—will connect all three pieces to accomplish a goal, rather than trying to accomplish it alone.