Empathy is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolkit. It is therefore, important that WE as leaders are aware of ways in which our emotional intelligence (EI) inspires or destructs our teams.
It is also imperative that WE explore some very practical steps (David Coleman’s 5 components of EI) that we can take in order to become more emotionally aware.
Develop your Self-awareness:
Spend a few minutes each day writing down your thoughts as this can help you build a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. STOP and REFLECT When you experience anger or other strong emotions. It is worth taking some time to examine why. No matter what the situation is, YOU can always choose how you react to it.
Modify your Self-regulation:
Stay in control of your emotions by controlling the urge to make rushed or emotional decisions. Start by being very clear about what your most important values are and where you will not compromise; be prepared to make a commitment to admit your mistakes and face the consequences. You will sleep better at night, and you will earn a lot of respect from those around you; reflect on how you react in a challenging situation. Do you shout at someone else when you are stressed? Try to write down the negative things you want to say, and then rip the paper up and throw it away. This is better than speaking the negative emotions aloud to your team members, and also helps you to self-regulate your reactions and staying calm. Mindfulness is the key!
Improve your Motivation:
It is very easy to forget why you love your career. Take time to review what you love about it. Why did you want the job you have? What motivates you as a leader? Are you unhappy in your role and struggling to remember why you wanted the job in the first place? – try Sakichi Toyoda’s (inventor and founder of Toyota) 5 Whys technique to get to the root of your problem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWwn7A1MG9U
Re-examine how motivated you are to lead. Always try and find one good thing about any challenge or failure you face. Be optimistic and hopeful as there is always something positive if you look for it.
Improve your Empathy:
We all know that empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organization. Some people are naturally empathetic, and some are not. However, all can develop this with practice. Take the time to imagine the feelings and perspectives of another person. All it takes is for you to imagine what it would be like if you were standing in their shoes.
Be aware of your body language as it really tells people how you feel about a situation, and whether the message you are giving is positive or negative. Learning how to read body language can really help you with becoming better at determining how someone truly feels.
Reflect on how you respond to other people’s feelings. For example – you ask your team member to work two weekends in a row, and you can hear the disappointment in their voice. Respond by addressing how they feel. Tell them how much you appreciate how willing they are to sacrifice their weekends as you are just as frustrated about working weekends and not spending time with family and friends.
Build your Social skills:
Leaders who have good social skills are naturally good at managing change and resolving conflicts in a diplomatic manner. They lead by example and do not sit back and make their team members do the work; Reflect on how well you communicate with others and learn how to give praise. It is well worth the effort it in the end. Learn how to resolve conflicts between your team members by understanding and appreciating the various viewpoints.
As a leader, I used to be conscious and aware of how I responded to my team and how they reacted to my responses. I took time to reflect and to ask a very simple question – “Is everything OK with you?”. I paid attention to their tone of voice and observed their body language as they responded. This really helped me to empathise. However, I also used the occasions where I may have misinterpreted their responses as time for reflection and not blame myself for not being empathetic.
To learn more on how YOU can become a more emotionally aware leader – Sign up for a FREE Leadership Breakthrough Session.