Empathy, Self-Reflection: The ‘Soft-Skills’ of Today’s Leaders

October 31, 2017

By: strategyfocusedhr.com

“The world is dramatically reshaped and operates differently. We have gone from an industrial economy where we hired hands, to a knowledge economy where we hired heads, to a human economy where we hire hearts. When machines can out process, outperform and even outthink us, it is the things that machines can not do, the things that come from the heart, that are uniquely valuable and can never be automated or commoditized.”

– Dov Seidman

So yes, artificial intelligence has everybody trying to figure out this new dynamic, but as the statement attests, some of our roles will always be immune to this new groundbreaking technology. Leaders today should realize that great leaders are the ones that exhibit a skill set that is not replicable. To put this more succinctly, they lead from the heart.

Effective leaders, whether today or in the future, will lead from their hearts and know the hearts of their team members. Passion, drive, and commitment to quality are all important, but a passionate commitment to your team is what will determine your success, effectiveness, and enthusiasm.

I know some of you will glaze over at the mere mention of the “soft stuff;” however, the evidence shows that if this is practiced throughout the organization you can build a better workforce and better culture.

Leadership blind spots

One of my coaching clients told me the story of her husband who has consistently been a senior-level executive in his past roles. However, in his new workplace, there was a new CEO. As part of his assessment process, the new CEO requested that all his senior team go through a 360. When the results came back, they were not a pretty picture. My client’s husband was beside himself with his results. He called her up and went on a rant that it was a setup: “It can’t be…I know that I am a great leader.”

So I was curious as to her thoughts. She paused, and as only a wife or significant other can say, she told me everything that he said was not an accurate description of him, was actually a bullseye and on point. She talked about how the dinner table conversation would go from time to time. He was the master of the universe as everybody else was stupid or did not have his expertise.

Empathy is part of leadership

Finally, she told him to just calm down and use the services of an executive coach and maybe you can “get better insight.” Reluctantly, he agreed and started the process. A few months later, in a moment of reflection, he told her, “I had no idea that I was so out of control.” His self-reflection has forced him to look within. He realized the equation of leadership has a strong measure of empathy. That case is not isolated. There are numerous people in all of our organizations who are out of control like this. And the sad part is that it is infected in the leadership team for the most part. Until they realize that the blind spots have them in a bind, nothing will change their behavior. If that leader had not come in and begun the process of understanding his team, none of this new-found mindset would have ever been realized.

Self-reflection is your personal exam

Self-reflection is defined as meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives. We should all consciously set aside time for this level of thinking. This time is specifically focused on questions about your goals, your behavior, and your general state of mind. So set aside time every week to unplug from everybody and everything. The question we should all ask ourselves is: “How am I doing: Work, Personal, Family, etc.?” By using this process, it gives you, after a period of time, an insight as to who you really are.

• Am I being a person others can respect?

• Am I meeting the expectations I set for others around me?

• Am I using my talents fully?

• Am I performing at my peak capacity?

• Am I giving my family and friends my most and my best?

• Am I engaging in the worthy activity?

• Am I making a positive impact on the world or my surroundings?

• Am I on the path to my preferred future?

What is your score?

You may surprise yourself. Don’t be the clueless executive.

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