Numerous researches suggest that both empathy and social skills are two important elements of strong leadership. Without it, someone can have the best skills or superb training but he will fail at leading others. There is a link between a company’s success and emotionally intelligent leaders.
So, let’s discuss these two pillars of emotional intelligence and how they enhance the levels of leadership.
Empathy is easily recognizable. We have felt empathy at different points in our lives, whether it came from a friend, teacher or someone else. We have also felt the absence of empathy in our lives, whether it was at the workplace or in a relationship.
Empathy is easily recognizable yet leaders don’t get praised for having empathy. Many people still believe it is not appropriate amid the tough workplace landscape. Empathy does not mean adopting other people’s emotions or to please everyone. People-pleasing is terrible and it stands in the way of assertiveness and being yourself. Empathy means understanding the feelings of your employees.
The skill has become increasingly important in the modern world due to the following reasons:
- Challenges related to teamwork
- Increasing globalization
- Employee Retention
Leading a team is among the most challenging things for a leader. Teams are made up of diverse and unique individuals. It becomes difficult to reach consensus when there are so many people in the team. Empathy enables leaders to understand the perspectives of each individual.
A leader who understands different viewpoints can increase collaboration between a troubled team. A leader can increase the teamwork by listening to every team member, knowing their strengths, weaknesses and frustration, and by having long debates and conflicts.
Constructive conflicts and long debates have shown to improve teamwork between individuals in the workplace. It shows that employees are not scared of calling each other out to progress or to improve.
Globalization is another factor why it has become really important to have leaders who are empathic. A company which has employees from different cultures can have dialogues which can lead to misunderstandings. Empathy works as a cure. People who are empathic can understand the deep meaning without misunderstanding certain body language gestures.
Retaining talent requires empathy. Companies need to retain top talent and in today’s highly competitive market, it has become extremely important. Empathic leaders are coaches and mentors who not only enhance the performance of their employees but they also increase their job satisfaction. Effective leaders make deep connections with their employees, they know how to extract the best performance out of someone.
Social skills are just as important as empathy, It shows the ability of a leader to manage relationships. Social skills may sound easy to some people who are highly social but it is not. It is not about making a lot of friends and being able to socialize with a lot of people. It goes a step further. Social skills are about making people take an action you want them to take. It is about influencing others.
People who are socially skilled have a lot of friends and they can find similarities among people who are totally different and build rapport gradually. Sometimes instantly.
This does not mean they socialise at times when they need to work. This means they are able to use their social skills to get things done. These people can utilise their wide network at the time of need. People who are highly social stay optimistic in hard times because motivation also contributes to social skills. Optimism and a positive attitude can be seen in the conversations and body language of a leader and it is an outcome of other skills of emotional intelligence.
Socially skilled people are great are persuading others. Persuading is not only a result of social skills, but it also combines the other elements of emotional intelligence including self-awareness and empathy.
Social skills are more recognizable than other elements of emotional intelligence. You may see a socially skilled person taking to other colleagues at the office who are not even connected to them directly or a part of their team. But it does not make sense to only socialize with people who are in your department or in your team because you never know when someone will be able to help you.
Both social skills and empathy are important for leaders. If you feel your lack of these skills or employees at your company lack these skills, then consult a leadership advisory firm which can help you assess emotional intelligence skills of yourself and your employees.