leadersedge inc. blog
Leaders who can envision successful outcomes are more valuable than ever in today’s world. Organizations in our modern era are driven largely by data and algorithms, but they still employ real human beings who require authentic and inspirational leadership. Today’s leaders need to be able to understand the data and move with the speed of technology. But they also need to be able to inspire their people and translate all the data and facts into a vision that is inspiring to others.
Have you taken the time to reflect on what you really want from your leadership career? What is the impact you want to have? What is the legacy you want to leave behind? Or are you afraid to answer this question honestly, as your motivation for stepping into leadership wasn’t about people and supporting others’ success?
“Why do you want to be a leader?” It’s more than just a tricky interview question; it is the inquiry that should exist at the heart of everything you do if you have been called to walk the leadership path. Leadership is more than just the destination at the top of your career ladder. Yes, it tends to be accompanied by a nice salary, a decent office space and an enhanced social status. But if those aspects are a leader’s “why,” that person is unlikely to last – or operate effectively – in a leadership role.
Empathy can be learned, nurtured and ultimately improved upon with effort and time. While some people may have a natural knack for empathy, they aren’t the only ones who can practice it authentically. Everyone can become more empathetic and it may be more difficult for some than others, but the effort is well worth the reward. Today I’d like to give you a little quiz on empathy just so you can see where you’re at and where you need to go. But first, let’s get into some of the facts we know about empathy and leadership.
Everybody seems to want more empathy in our world, and yet few people seem to be able to make the changes that would bring increased empathy to our culture and workplaces. I believe one of the ways to address this issue is to describe the positive benefits that organizations can experience by instituting more empathetic cultures. Empathy brings clear, distinct improvements for individuals and organizations. When you can begin to see the connections between empathy and organizational success, you can begin to implement them effectively in your world. What are some of these real, measurable benefits? Let’s take a look!
Empathy is a quality that is sorely lacking among many of today’s leaders, even though it is exactly what is needed within modern organizations. Some leaders have dismissed empathy altogether, continuing to subscribe to old-school leadership tactics and models like “command and control.” Other leaders, however, may be curious about empathy and how it can enhance their leadership, but are sometimes swayed by powerful, persistent myths. These myths may seem like the truth, but they are far from having any relevance in today’s world. Let’s take a look at a few of the more troubling empathy myths and break them apart one by one.
Empathy may be a “soft skill,” but that is no reason to underestimate it. The ability to master soft skills like empathy, communication, collaboration, flexibility and conflict resolution is absolutely critical to leadership. “Hard skills,” which include things like typing proficiency, computer-programming aptitude, writing ability, mathematical competency and other technical skills, are obviously important. But those skills have nothing to do with the qualities that make leaders compelling or successful.
Enhancing emotional intelligence is actually quite difficult – leaders need to put forth a strong effort and fail many times on the path to improving their EQs. Many simply give up and fall back into familiar patterns. Others try and try again, hoping the same methods will produce different results. The truth is that if you have been unsuccessful at improving your emotional intelligence, it doesn’t mean you have failed. Rather, it means you need to try some different methods. Or you may need to enlist the help of another person who can supply you with much-needed perspective and coaching.