My old Boss would say to me over and over, “I can teach and help you to learn the business principles that will enable you to be successful in this business but the toughest thing you will encounter day to day, is building positive relationships with others.” We had long talks about this and how he struggled early on in his career and how this word empathy kept showing up on his reviews over and over and the lack of empathy he had as a leader. People’s perception of him was having an attitude of getting the job done at almost any cost and he knew that had to change or his day’s were numbered as a leader!
As I look back on those discussions he was of course right about all of it! I can remember in my former corporate career making a decision on a large capital expenditure, a $7 million dollar piece of equipment that took 9 months to build in Italy, 2 to 3 weeks being shipped by boat to the US and dropped on the dock and destroyed as it was being unloaded. Now that was a big problem! But honestly, I would have dealt with that problem everyday than all the people issues that caused more stress, sleepless nights and a whole bunch of anxiety for myself and other’s as well!
And there is not a day that goes by in my work at BTL that I don’t encounter a leader who is struggling with a broken relationship, conflict that seemingly won’t end or simply an inability to connect with his or her team at a deeper level. And that is why the 9th Essential (Building Your Emotional Intelligence) of our 12 Essentials is so darn critical in building your Personal Excellence.
And I go back to the word Empathy, (a critical aspect of emotional intelligence) and a quote by Daniel Pink that gives real clarity as to what exactly this word really means. “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the WORLD A BETTER PLACE.”
What are you doing as a leader to build your emotional intelligence skills?
Would your team describe you as a leader who knows how to walk in the shoes of another?
What Productive Action will YOU take to improve this important skill today?