24 Aug Unlocking true leadership potential through Emotional Intelligence: Part Two
Welcome to Part Two in our three-part blog series that has been designed to provide valuable insights into best practice approaches to Emotional Intelligence (EI) in the context of leadership and business.
In Part One, we highlighted the importance for organisations to invest in EI to understand the emotional factors that contribute to performance. Within that topic we explored the ‘keystone skill’ of EI, self awareness.
Building on those learnings and further empowering each other to take the first step to becoming emotionally intelligent leaders, in Part Two we will take a look at one of the most easily recognised of all the EI skills, empathy.
Empathy – leading in today’s operational and strategic landscape
Defined by Daniel Goleman – who popularised EI as we saw in Part One, as our capacity to understand another perspective, feel what someone else feels and sense what another needs from us, empathy is a critical skill for leaders in today’s operational and strategic landscape.
Empathy is a necessary skill in leading and managing teams effectively. As stated by Patrick Lencioni, expert on developing high performing teams;
“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare” (Lencioni, 2002).
For teams to work together effectively, they need both the desire and capacity to be flexible. This enables them to see a situation from another’s perspective, to appreciate the feelings of a team mate, and meet the team needs and expectations. Leaders of cohesive teams have the competitive advantage and empathy sitting at the heart of this, is the key.
Interestingly though, empathy is not a skill that is openly discussed or rewarded in our working lives. Perhaps this is because empathy can often be misperceived as a weakness rather than a strength. For instance, a leader who empathises with their stakeholder when making a decision may be perceived as weakening objectivity rather than strengthening the ability to influence a better business outcome. Our view is that empathy is necessary to influence another person. How can you adapt your style to connect with another to influence their view unless you can first appreciate their view?
At The Wrap Group, we’re committed to helping our clients understand that empathy is critical to our ability to influence others, anticipate team/customer concerns or risks, and connect with colleagues.
We have a proven record of helping clients develop empathy and in doing so realise their true leadership potential through our exclusive DISCflex assessment. While this assessment provides customised guidance on how you can develop across a range of critical leadership contexts, when it comes to empathy, it provides the key knowledge to consciously transition self-focus to other focus.
Using the DISCflex assessment tool to develop empathy
Once you have the motivation to understand another’s point of view, the DISCflex tool offers unique insight into why someone may be behaving, communicating or reacting in a particular way. This enables a curious rather than judgemental mindset which is starting point of empathy.
As we shared in Part One, a unique feature of DISCflex is the 3rd party perspectives on the respondent’s leadership style and this also plays a big part in the self-to other shift. By taking on feedback on how others see us, we give ourselves the chance to apply our empathy, develop the other perspective and understanding of the impact we have on others.
For instance, one of our consultants was coaching a senior leader, let’s call him Joe, on how to connect better with a colleague who sat on the same board, let’s call her Sue. According to Joe, he and Sue butted heads on most issues. When Joe would share information on important matters, Sue would regularly interrupt and ask him to move on from the detail to focus on the business benefits. This would frustrate Joe to no end. Joe saw Sue’s disinterest of the detail as being negligent. He would also show his frustration both through his communication and facial expressions.
As a result, Joe and Sue’s relationship suffered. However, upon completing the DISCflex assessment, Joe’s 3rd party data showed that he was perceived in the business as a highly task focused leader with a strong drive for detail and accuracy which risked him disconnecting from the big picture. A light bulb went off for Joe. He could see that his need for detail was misaligned to Sue’s desire to see the big picture. As a result of this awareness, Joe was able to empathise with Sue and adapt his style to suit his goal of communicating a clear picture – all the while aligning with his audience by balancing detail with the big picture. Six months later, their relationship is now one of the strongest in the board team.
Using the insights provided in the customised report will help you understand the differences in your preferred ways of thinking, understanding and behaving, to ultimately provide the guidance on how to adapt your approach, have a greater influence and develop stronger relationships.
In the final blog of our three-part series, we’ll further examine how the DISCflex tool leads the market for it’s ability to examine and build our EI competencies. Until then you can revisit Part One by clicking here or find out more about the DISCflex tool by clicking here.