Leadership EQ: Empathy

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[vimeo id = 125073852] Have you ever been in a conversation where someone tells you: “I know exactly what you mean”? You get this feeling of satisfaction when someone empathizes with what you’re sharing. When Daniel Goleman first introduced “Emotional Intelligence,” he said empathy was the most easily recognized attribute of emotionally-intelligent people. It may not seem like a necessary leadership skill, but empathy is critical to successfully managing relationships. Here are three ways empathy fuels empowering leadership.

First, empathy cultivates effective teamwork. This is a perfect example of what empathy is and what it is not. Someone’s false perception of empathy might make them try to please everyone on their team and make sure each person is happy. This is not only impossible, but also paralyzing to the team. The power of empathy in a leader is not that you keep your team happy but that your team knows their opinions matter. True empathic leadership makes rational and emotionally intelligent decisions which includes considering the thoughts and feelings of those on the team.

Second, empathy facilitates cross-cultural dialogue. When communicating across cultural boundaries, there are many opportunities for confusion – especially if there is a language barrier. However, empathy can be the bridge across those barriers. As Dr. Goleman puts it: “People who have [empathy] are attuned to subtleties in body language.” Why is this important?  Because a study in the 1970s by Dr. Albert Mehrabian indicated between 55 and 90% of what we communicate is non-verbal. So in a cross-cultural situation where verbal miscues are common, being able to read and communicate non-verbally becomes an invaluable asset.

Lastly, empathy fosters loyalty. An essential part of any world-class company is the ability to retain talented people with unique skillsets. Empathic leadership cultivates an empowering environment with effective channels for creative communication. It gives leaders insight into how best to give feedback. It allows the voices and opinions of all members to be heard and considered. It gives every member the sense of belonging to the organization instead of working for it.

Thanks for checking out my blog! I hope these words have been an encouragement to you. Please feel free to share any thoughts or comments below. Thanks again and have a great day!