Saturday, April 12, 2014

Empathy In Business Leadership - Traits of A Great Leader

Daniel Goleman first introduced the concept of emotional intelligence to the business landscape after his international best seller, Emotional Intelligence, was a great success.  This new book was aptly named Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Goleman takes the position that every good leader's task is to prime a good feeling in those that they lead. That good feeling occurs when a good leader has the ability to create resonance - source of positiveness that unleashes the best in people. Further he emphasizes that the primal job of leadership is emotional.  To learn why emotionally intelligent leadership drives resonance, and thus performance, and how to tap into its power for the individual leader, teams, or entire organizations, I highly recommend reading Daniel Goleman's Primal Leadership - Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.

The four fundamental domains of emotional intelligence are:
1) self-awareness
2) self-management
3) social awareness, and
4) relationship building

These four domains are closely related and in order to be successful, a great leader must understand their relationship.  A leader who is not aware of his or her emotions cannot manage them well due to lack of self-awareness.  Their emotions are out of control and as a result relationships will suffer. In this post, I shall just focus on the relationship aspect of emotional intelligence and how empathy plays an important role in leadership. Dealing with emotions in the workplace is an skillful leadership trait and is easier said or written than practiced. Relationship management is not just about being a friendly person, it is about being genuine and authentic. For a leader, it becomes a powerful catalyst for resonance, once they are tuned in to the emotions of their teams they lead to fuel richer, more meaningful interactions.

Empathy You Me We Graphic

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people and it is also an artful skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. It fuels deep connections. Business leaders who are empathetic are great active listeners. They are not just paying attention to what is being said  verbally, but also tuned into the non-verbal cues from their audience. They are able to probe deeper, understand purpose, and most importantly, summarize back key points of agreement and build rapport effectively with meaning.

Hence, to be a great leader, it is important to make the connection with the people you lead- genuinely at an emotional level - in order to foster strong relationships.  This in return builds rapport and becomes a powerful catalyst for resonance in bringing out the best in people.  In conclusion, I am sharing this short video clip on The Power of Empathy - A RSA Short by Dr. Brennie Brown. Dr.Brown is a research storyteller & professor at the University of Houston, TX. In this clip she demonstrates the key differences between empathy and sympathy and how one drives connection while the latter drives disconnection.

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