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If we’ve learned anything, in this almost year and a half since the pandemic, it’s that having more skills for relating, for coming together, for getting along, and for collaboration is key to the complex issues we’re all navigating at work and in the world. I have found that the inner game of emotional intelligence leads to empathy and leadership. You simply can’t have one without the other. These two qualities are some of the most important skills leaders, managers, and individual contributors need to learn in this poignant time.
As the world continues to transition toward the future age of work- a hybrid remote environment in which human connection is more important than it has ever been before, it will require emotionally intelligent workers. It is essential that we gain more self awareness and self management so that we’re able to really pay attention to how we’re showing up, at work and in the world.
On this solo episode, I want to define emotional intelligence and define how it’s linked not only to empathy and leadership, but to successful, thriving teams. I will give you some simple and powerful ways that you can begin to practice more empathy at work and in your life.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis
The Center for Generational Kinetics Study on Gen Z
Center for Creative Leadership Empathy Study
Conscious & Inclusive Leadership Retreat
Leading from Wholeness Executive Coaching
Leading from Wholeness Learning and Development Resources
Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World by Carley Hauck
The Imperfect Shownotes
Carley Hauck 00:01
Hi, this is Carley Hauck. Welcome to another episode of the amazing and inspiring SHINE podcast. This podcast is all about the intersection of three things- conscious and inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams and awareness practices. I will be offering three episodes a month. And before I tell you about our topic today, I would love if you could go over to Apple podcasts and hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any amazing episodes.
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Our topic for today is the importance of empathy and leadership.
If we’ve learned anything, in this almost year and a half since the pandemic, we’ve learned that having more skills for relating, for coming together, for getting along, for collaboration is key to the complex issues we’re all navigating at work and in the world. And the inner game rules the outer game. And I’ve been writing a lot on this topic in my recent book Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World , also the name of this podcast, and a lot of the work that I’ve been facilitating and learning organizational development, executive and team coaching in the last decade.
And what I have found, and my experience is that the inner game of emotional intelligence, which I’m going to unpack leads to empathy and leadership, you can’t have one without the other. And I feel that these two qualities are some of the most important skills leaders, managers, and individual contributors need to learn in this poignant time.
The reason? We are facing some of the largest challenges in history of any time before us.
We have literally our survival at stake with climate change. This is one of the reasons that I wrote my book, I spent four years writing it, because I wanted to help the human species develop more consciousness so that we could solve these problems together.
And the UN Climate report, the most recent the sixth version of it, they’ve been saying this for quite a long time, but this is the most updated version was released the week of August 9.
And we need more than ever, to be able to communicate, to share empathy to understand the other person’s perspective and views, even if it’s not our own, so that we can solve these complex problems together of racial inequities and social and environmental responsibility and aligning with greater sustainable development for our entire worlds because, as we’ve learned, in the last year and a half, we are all in this together.
So I want to define emotional intelligence and how it’s linked to empathy and leadership.
I also want to give you some ways to practice more empathy at work in your life. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s personal emotions and the emotions of others.
So having self management, and then social awareness. Knowing how you’d feel in a certain situation helps you to gauge how others will feel in a similar environment, thus enabling favorable social interactions and evoking positive reactions from others. emotionally intelligent people gain social aptitudes, such as the ability to resolve conflict, teach others or manage teams.
In my book, Chapter Two is devoted to the inner game of emotional intelligence. And I break down the four dimensions of emotional intelligence. So the first two are self awareness, self management. And the last two are social awareness and relationship mastery. I really think of these four dimensions as being the inner and the outer game. So being that self awareness, self management, it’s an inner quality, we’re developing it first on the inside. Self management is referred to as self control and self regulation. It’s the ability to regulate our emotions or thoughts or behaviors effectively in different situations. It includes managing our stress, delaying gratification, motivating ourselves, setting and working toward personal and academic goals. It’s learning how to navigate our triggers and how to express our feelings skillfully. And if we don’t have self awareness, the ability to watch and observe our thoughts or feelings or sensations, we’re not able to self manage, so they are intrinsically linked.
And if you don’t develop those first two qualities of emotional intelligence, then you can’t show up with the last two, the social awareness and the relationship mastery. So when we gain more self awareness and self management, we’re able to really pay attention to how we’re showing up, then we’re able to apply those same skills to others. Oh, I wonder what’s happening for them. Oh, I’m watching their nonverbal behavior. Hmm, this is not the right time to probably have a conversation- they’re triggered. That is going to help with relationship mastery.
Many of us in the year of the pandemic and ongoing have brought more of ourselves to the workplace than ever before. We’ve been living and working from our living rooms or bedrooms or basements. And we’ve all been navigating different levels of uncertainty, grief, anger, volatility, ambiguity.
We are human beings, not human doings.
We feel discomfort. When there is uncertainty when there is change, even if it’s a good change, we think, oh, how am I going to navigate this. And we have been navigating some big feelings, big emotions. And it requires more empathy, more compassion in our leadership and how we relate to one another.
So let’s talk a little bit about the business case for emotional intelligence and empathy in defining it for you. But let’s talk about why this really matters at work. And then at the world, because the workplace is a microcosm for the world. In the midst of the pandemic, researchers found that we as a world have rising rates of loneliness and depression makes sense, we’ve been socially isolated. We’ve been going through big challenges, and it was already high, but it’s gone up higher.
This means that mental health concerns represent an opportunity for companies and leaders to embrace emotional intelligence in order to re-engage people at work and life.
Additionally, Gen Z, which will be one of the largest populations of the workforce, has been found to be the loneliest generation. With 73% reporting, sometimes or always feeling alone. According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, which was a 2020 study, solving the remote work challenge across generations, it was found that more than any other generation Gen Z wants their managers to be empathetic.
If the youth is the future, which it is, they are the leaders that our world needs now. And they’re lonely and psychologically stressed than the future of work, must have emotional intelligence and empathy. And again, if we don’t cultivate those inner game skills of emotional intelligence and empathy, then we’re not able to create psychological safety in our teams or one on ones and in the greater culture. And that’s really important for high performance, innovation for creativity, for collaboration.
I talk a lot about the concept of psychological safety, and I write a lot about it in my book. I was trained in the psychological safety scan by Dr. Amy and Dr. Amy and Edmondson and her 25 years of research on this important topic at Harvard, and in worksites. Psychological safety is one of the first things that I measure when I’m brought in for any team development, when I’m looking to design and implement a large scale learning or leadership development program, or really focusing on supporting the culture to flourish.
For those that are not familiar with the concept, or the definition of psychological safety, here’s a summary. According to Google’s famous project, Aristotle initiative, a high performing team needs three things: strong awareness of the importance of social connections, or social sensitivity, an environment where each person speaks equally. And lastly, psychological safety, where everyone feels safe to show and employ themselves without fear of negative consequences.
To harness these three elements of a successful team, it takes an emotionally intelligent and empathetic leader. People feel cared for when these three items are present among a team or an organization. And guess what? People who feel cared for are more loyal, engaged, committed, productive. In fact, employees who feel cared for by their organization are 10 times more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work. Whoo, nine times more likely to stay at their company for three or more years, we want that. Seven times more likely to feel included at work. We want people to feel like they have belonging, they can bring their whole and best selves to work. They’re four times less likely to suffer from stress and burnout. And they’re two times as likely to be more engaged at work.
Well, that feels like a no brainer for developing a culture of greater emotional intelligence and empathy. The three core human needs of work and life are to survive, belong and become. Much like Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, once humans fulfill the need for food, water, shelter, they then seek to be accepted for who they are belonging, and then finally learn to grow to become their best selves. That’s the self actualization at the top of the pyramid.
As the world advances more and more, our survival needs are being consistently met. But for some, they’re still in survival mode. Many of us are, since the pandemic. And so that’s another reason why it’s important to have emotionally intelligent leaders that are capable of showing empathy, and extending belonging to their teams.
I believe that humane technology has the possibility to advance humanity. The Industrial Revolution requires strong workers, the Information Age required knowledgeable workers, but this future age of work that we’re in- hybrid remote, it will require emotionally intelligent workers. Because as we become more sophisticated, technologically with AI and 5g, the human skills, the soft skills, some people call them, the inner game skills, I called them, they’re the real skills, like compassion and empathy. This is going to define the competitive edge of workers and entire organizations.
As the world becomes more high tech, we will need more high touch. As technology advances, it will take on some of the skills that humans aren’t good at, or we don’t like or too dangerous, but then it gives us the opportunity to have more capacity to relate to one another and be empathetic towards one another.
So, let’s talk about building empathy. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that managers who show higher levels of empathy towards their team are viewed more positively overall on their performance of decision making coaching, engaging meant planning and organizing. Developing greater capacity for empathy becomes even more important. With all of these distributed teams around the world, working remotely, phone and zoom are the normal. But we can often miss emotional cues nonverbal cues. If we’re not being mindful of how this other person might be feeling, thinking, perceiving.
Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman have identified three different types of empathy. Now, I’d like to read more about them for you. So we have cognitive empathy. And this by the way, is taken from my book in chapter three. Cognitive empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place and understand their perspective. This quality enables leaders to assess what others are feeling is also a natural outgrowth of self awareness. The executive circuits in the brain that allow you to notice your thoughts and monitor your feelings give you the ability to transfer these skills from yourself to another. One way to grow your cognitive empathy is to ask what would happen if I put myself in this person’s shoes? Or what might I have done? If I had this experience?
Emotional empathy. This is the second kind of empathy. This is the ability to feel what someone else feels. Another name for this is emotional contagion. This is what happens when you are interacting with a distraught colleague and begin to feel down and distraught too. It is important that you connect with what people are feeling, but you don’t want to be rocked by their feeling state. One way to grow your emotional empathy is to allow your positive or negative feelings to surface while listening to a co-worker’s emotional experience.
So this really comes down to having a self awareness practice really noticing what’s happening in my body. What am I really noticing and the other? And some questions you might ask yourself to grow your emotional empathy is, when have I experienced a similar story? How did I feel when this happened to me? Here’s an important distinction. Cognitive empathy is empathy by thought. And emotional empathy is empathy by feelings.
And the third type of empathy is compassionate empathy. This is the ability to move into action with empathic concern. This is what many co-workers typically react to in the workplace. For example, when a team member reports that he or she doesn’t have the complete information to finish the deliverable. A leader might jump in, or assign someone to help with one of the related tasks. A question that can help you build compassion. Empathy is, what supportive action would I want or need, if I were in this person’s shoes?
We all want to be seen, felt and heard. and developing empathy supports appropriate boundaries, while allowing you to be with and to acknowledge another’s range of experiences. Empathy says, I am here with you, and I know the struggle and have lived this experience.
So as you’re listening, I’d love to guide you through a practice to develop your empathy. Take a moment and find a place where you can actually drop in close your eyes. So don’t do this if you’re driving. But really give yourself a chance to pause. Notice your feet connected to the floor. Notice your body posture. sitting up nice and tall. Bring your shoulders up and back. Open your jaw. Maybe move your head from side to side. Relax. Bring your attention into your body. And start to notice the rhythm of your breath. Breathing in, feel the stomach rise, breathing out, feel the stomach fall. Breathing in, breathing out and out. Breathing in and as you exhale out, breathe out.
Let’s do that two more times. In and out, getting all the attention from the day. I mean negative experiences just release from the body. And one more time breathing in, out.
Now, I invite you to bring to mind a colleague at work. Maybe it’s even someone at home, this person is experiencing some difficulty. Ask yourself the following questions to help develop your empathy. What would I do? How would I feel in a similar situation? What would I want? or expect from my manager? What would I not want? If you like, you can journal about this.
This exercise comes directly from my book. And there’s a journaling opportunity, but I’ll say the questions one more time. So that you can really build your inner game of empathy. What would I do? How would I feel in a similar situation? What would I want or expect from my manager? What would I not want?
If this was a little difficult for you, this exercise or a little challenging, you might be naturally low on the empathy scale. So this is an opportunity for you to grow it. You can learn to check yourself and do what doesn’t always come naturally.
So here’s some tips. Before you act, you can pause when you’re relating with another and ask how am I what I’m about to do or say, impact others. We can’t always, you know, be the people pleaser. And we don’t really know how our thoughts and behaviors are going to impact another because everyone has their own lens that they view it from and their own worldview and lived experiences. But if your intention and motivation is coming from care, and truth, then that’s the best that you can do.
But it is I think important to pause and really be skillful in how we’re relating to everyone right now, more than ever, because we’re all navigating so much complexity and uncertainty. You can also develop your inner game of self awareness, self management, by really noticing your thoughts, your feelings, your body sensations. A meditation practice is one of the best ways you can grow your self awareness and you can start to develop greater self management, because you’re able to pause and refrain from speaking, when maybe you’re triggered or the other person’s triggered. You can take care of yourself and the relationship when you have these two skills.
And then the other two dimensions of emotional intelligence is that you show up with greater social awareness and relationship mastery. Another way to grow into a more emotionally intelligent and empathetic leader is to have a trusted advisor or coach that can help you see your blind spots and support you to develop greater skill and your emotional intelligence, empathy and communication. I have been working as an executive coach now for 15 years, serving all types of leaders, emerging. middle managers, CEOs, founders, HR business partners. And I have often supported these folks, and up leveling the skills because we can’t change what we don’t see, which is always great to have a coach to reflect back to us, love and truth and challenge us to be our best selves.
I will always challenge my clients to grow with compassion and truth. If I see a mindset or action that is hindering them to show up in the best of ways I name it, I investigate it, I mirror it back to them. So that there’s the ability for them to shift and change, and be in service of their greatest possibility and potential for their teams, their life, their organization.
So that’s what I have for you on this important topic. If you would like support around creating a culture with more emotional intelligence, empathy, and our psychological safety in your organization and your leadership team, I would love to help you. Please reach out to me and book a free consultation, and the link will be in the show notes.
As I shared before, I also do a lot of coaching with folks on these important skills. And I would love to support you. I have a whole page on executive coaching on my website, and there is a coaching application you can fill out and be happy to book a free consultation to talk with you more. I also am often asked to conduct trainings and workshops and keynotes on this topic for lots of different organizations. And I would be delighted to serve you in this capacity.
Additionally, if you are seeking someone to support you to build this more human centered leadership and organization on a more full time capacity, please feel free to contact me. Again, I’d be happy to book some time with you. And if I’m not the right person to help you, I’d love to put you in touch with someone who might be a better fit, because I have a big network. And I like to help people.
A couple other resources on how you can grow this and yourself. I write a lot about this topic in my book Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World. I also have many free articles on my website on emotional intelligence, empathy. I encourage you to check all of that out. If you have any questions, comments or topics that you feel you’d really love to learn more about and have me address on the podcast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, thank you so much for tuning in and being part of this wonderful community and until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.