I cannot emphasize this enough. Empathy is at the core of what makes a leader what we call a true leader. One’s abilities to put themselves in the shoes of others and literally care for others as they care for themselves is a skill-set that transcends the conservation on emotional intelligence. A person’s ability to empathize is more than a construct in EQ. It is a duty for anyone who made the decision to work with a group of people or a team. A person who is incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of others, or as importantly, learning how to do so… will eventually be fired by the organization. Making a long story short: Learning and applying empathetic behaviors can literally save your job and your professional career.
It isn’t just the baby boomers who are doing a poor job with applying sound emotional intelligence skills. Several other categorical groups don’t apply the central tenets of EQ, especially the millennial generation. This upcoming group of professionals have, for the most part, what I consider to be a serious interpersonal communication issue. Some scholars would even categorize them as emotionally unintelligent and perhaps a generation with a high degree of what I call EE — Emotional Entitlement. Self validation and recognition are two of the cancers we find in both emotionally unintelligent folks and a large number of millennials. Things are all about them… What a dangerous philosophy to spread and accept.
If you find yourself in an environment where the former are celebrated and idolized, make sure you immediately do two things. First: Take the initiative and try to coach them, directly or indirectly, on how to transform themselves into a more emotional intelligent person. Second: Be willing to help when they ask for help. Remember: A caring behavior can go a long way and can certainly do miracles in any group or organization. Never forget that, okay?
There are a number of issues that when we experience them, we need to do what we can to fight and replace them. These real word challenges are: Taking all the credit accomplished by a consortium; distancing yourself from those you work with, texting too much, and of course… not making enough time to meet other people. In this article, I will explain in some detail how we can fix three of these with examples and techniques.
- Taking all the credit accomplished by a consortium: Just don’t. If you completed a task with distinction and accomplished a challenging or ordinary goal or objective, make sure you recognize your team. Your face alone should not be in every marketing deliverable celebrating your success or in an annual report sent to a higher power, especially when the face of others who helped you to be where you are not included in the report. I do realize that sometimes, leaders don’t include the names and the contributions of their individual team members without realizing. It is absolutely imperative, however, that professionals in higher positions be sensitive to the contributions made by his/her group.
- Distancing yourself from those you work with. If you want to lead, you must be accessible. A level five leader understands that he/she can’t make him or herself look like a rare commodity because these leaders know that the former approach backfires and only results in the destruction of a unit or high levels of employee turnover. Nobody that I know of enjoys working with anyone who think of themselves to be too good to chat with others. Reason being, of course, is a variable. As an old friend of mine once said, “Caesar’s friends are to be both good and appear good.” Pragmatically, organizational behavior in the the workforce follows the same logic. If a leader is good but is perceived to be bad… problems within the group will be eminent and chances are high that the organization will suffer.
- Texting too much. By now, you know that I am not a fan of the overuse of technology. I am, however, all for automatic technology and gathering big data with technological tools so that more interpersonal communication occurs. Let me be blunt. Most people I know will find it disrespectful if someone is constantly texting when speaking with them. In some instances, folks would even quit under these circumstances. Millennials struggle quite a lot with this. Just because people are busy and receive tons of text messages a day doesn’t mean that they need to answer them immediately. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t immediately reply that text message you have received, trust me. Make sure you make time for yourself to speak with others face to face. Avoid being a slave to your smartphone.
Empathy is at the core of what makes a leader what we call a true leader. One’s abilities to put themselves in the shoes of others and literally care for others as they care for themselves is a skill set that transcends the conversation on emotional intelligence. If you want to have a long and heathy career, do what you can to practice empathy with others. Don’t be at the office grumpy and thinking that people can’t read your expressions. When success is achieved, share the credit with others. Sometimes, a simple act of introducing your team members to others go a long way. Your unit isn’t just you. In fact, I guarantee you it will never be just about you. Therefore, don’t distance yourself from the same people who help you to achieve greatness. If a leader is good but is perceived to be bad by team members, problems within the group will be eminent and chances are high that the organization will suffer. Stop texting and start chatting. Be empathetic! In the end you will thank me.