The Most Important Skill in Business…And Life

In the 1990s already, some of the biggest companies became interested in what personal capabilities determined both high performance and leadership. While technical skills and IQ were found to be important, researchers found emotional intelligence (EQ) to be twice as important at every level of the company, regardless of level of seniority.

One of the keys to good leadership (and EQ) is the ability to empathise when making important business decisions. Empathy is not about trying to be agreeable to everyone. It’s about being interested in others’ perspective and being willing to see the world from someone else’s point of view even if you do not support said view.

Think about the importance of reaching consensus in teams, especially in larger organisation. Collaboration is often a byproduct of a manager or anyone in leading role taking the time to understand their team’s emotional state. It’s tempting to think that if you’ve worked with someone for a long time, you can easily guess what their feelings are but that is rarely accurate. In fact, repeatedly making these types of assumptions can backfire as it reduces the opportunities to communicate.

So what can you do to cultivate empathy at work?

The answer is simple: don’t assume, ask questions.

What did they hope to achieve? How do they feel about what happened?

It takes practice to to become more emotionally intelligent at work, but it creates a culture where you win…and so does everyone else.

For more articles on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence, check out my LinkedIn articles.

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