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Erica Dhawan


New York, New York, USA

Collaboration and Teamwork Expert

Erica Dhawan is the world’s leading authority on 21st century teamwork, collaboration and connectional intelligence. She challenges audiences and organizations to innovate faster and further, and was recently named #1 on the Top Women Keynote Speakers of 2020 List by RealLeaders. With the world of business increasingly turning digital and work practices changing at a blistering rate, Erica provides innovative strategies to unlock the collective power of teams, build a culture of trust, and create authentic engagement to ensure competitiveness. 

Keynote Speeches

Virtual Keynotes & Webinars
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Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional intelligence

We typically associate success and leadership with smarts, passion and luck. But in today’s hypercompetitive world, even those gifts aren’t enough. Strategist Erica Dhawan argues that the game changer is a thoroughly modern skill called Connectional Intelligence (CxQ). As radical a concept as Emotional Intelligence was in the 90s, Connectional Intelligence is turning people into superconnectors who accelerate innovation, break down silos and foster breakthrough top and bottom line impact.

This dynamic, engaging, high-energy, fast-paced keynote will help participants understand the practice of using connectional intelligence as the key to professional success and leadership in the 21st century. Attendees will learn new insights and tools to accelerate the connected power of teams, become more agile and innovative, and drive breakthrough ideas and outcomes.

Key Takeaways:
· How anyone can excel not just through skills and smarts, but through Connectional Intelligence.
· Keys to leveraging your networks and connections, and creating contagious positive results.
· Successful tactics used to address connectional overload and in changing turbulent times.
· How leaders create deep connections of fierce loyalty and respect from their team and customers.
· How connectionally intelligent leaders outperform the competition and create remarkable results.

Concrete Empathy: A Playbook for Leading Modern Teams

We live in a culture defined by a distinct empathy deficit: The boss who constantly emails you are “wrong”—but never shows you how to correct those mistakes. The colleague who mansplains you to death in every conference call and has no interest in what you have to say. The team member who won’t stop looking at her phone as you share sensitive information during a meeting.

Why is empathy today at such a low point? You can credit various factors, including fewer face-to-face interactions, an ever-accelerating pace of change and an increasing number of global teams working remotely. These and other elements make it harder for any of us to understand and meet the unspoken needs of others. Teams have it especially hard. The more digitized teams become, and the more we interact online, the greater the need for empathy becomes to balance distances and misalignments and foster inclusivity and belonging.

In this keynote, attendees will learn to activate Concrete Empathy, a playbook for building trust and collaboration with confidence today. With a combination of engaging stories, science, and practical tools, it shows leaders how to cultivate greater empathy across teams, ultimately creating cultures of connection and high-performance. 

Key Takeaways:
· Simple ways of seeing the world as others do, even during emails, conference calls, and video discussions.
· Rules of thumb to avoid misunderstanding, ambiguity and rushes to judgment (or what we call, reading digital body language).
· Signals that show others you understand their feelings and hear their ideas, especially when you are not in the same room.
· Tools to diffuse tensions, bring an end to conflicts and create lasting connections.

Lead with Digital Body Language: Foster Human Engagement at Work

When your colleague replies “fine!” are they actually fine… or are they angry? Do you wait hours to get clarification on a vague e-mail? Did that weekend text message from your boss irritate you? We are communicating faster and more often than ever before. We feel like we’re connected – but are we really?  We save time using email, right?  But then we end up using all of that ‘saved’ time to clarify what we meant in the first place. In person, we can clarify context immediately. We rely on body language and tone to grasp the real meaning. With our digital walls up, we lose subtext and nuance.

We all leave a digital impression on each other. If someone doesn’t text back for hours or even days, do you think they are being rude? Is using an emoji or LOL unprofessional, or creating a human connection with your team? What impression does your boss, team, or colleague think of that kind of behavior? Whether your team works on separate floors, buildings or even countries, they have to connect online in order to collaborate. These new misunderstandings are happening all day, every day. They’re reducing your employee engagement, morale, and team performance each time.

Key Takeaways:
· Understand your communication style and what signals you are broadcasting (even if you don’t intend to!).
· Reduce the confusion and frustration that comes with communication across all our various mediums, like email, phone, IM, text, apps and even live meetings.
· Develop a digital communication strategy to create the highest performing teams.
· Understand and use digital subtext to create real intellectual and emotional connection, no matter the distance.

Audience reviews:

  • Her storytelling style of presenting along with a healthy dose of informative case studies kept everyone engaged and interested–and excited about using connectional intelligence to transform our business. - Chairman and CEO Emeritus, Sodexo
  • Erica was one of the best speakers we’ve had. Her message was of great value to our teams at FedEx who ranged from Gen Y to Traditionalists! We left with specific actions we could use right away to drive more innovation across our teams. - Senior Advisor, FedEx Corporation
  • Erica Dhawan was an inspiring and provocative keynote speaker at our executive retreat. I highly recommend her and her work to senior executives seeking to build a thriving talent pool in today’s world! - Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Speaker Biography

Growing up as a shy, introverted Indian-American girl in Pittsburgh, Erica Dhawan struggled to find her voice and place. She became fascinated in building connections across differences and this desire eventually led Erica to start teaching courses in leadership and collaboration as a research fellow at Harvard and MIT. During this time, the research she contributed to motivated Erica to start her own speaking business and scale it from a what-if idea into a global company. She is now the Founder & CEO of Cotential, a global organization that helps companies, leaders, and managers leverage 21st century collaboration skills and behaviors to improve game changing performance.

Today, Erica writes for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company and the Huffington Post. She also serves as a board member to Lufthansa Innovation Hub and is the host of the award winning podcast, Masters of Leadership. Erica is also the co-author of the bestselling book Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence, which was named #1 on What Corporate America is Reading.

Featured as one of the Top 20 Management Experts around the world by GlobalGurus and named by Thinkers50 as “The Oprah of Management Ideas,” Erica brings energy, original research, frontline stories, and practical advice to any keynote whether it’s on stage or through the computer. Erica has spoken at various global stages ranging from the World Economic Forum at Davos to TEDx, and works with clients such Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, and Cisco. She has also shared the stage with some of the greatest leaders and innovators of our time, including Arianna Huffington and Andrew Yang. 

Eric holds a MPA from Harvard University, a MBA from MIT Sloan, and a BS in Economics from The Wharton School.