Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Empathy, Often Misunderstood, Very Important, Learn About It Here!

Empathy as a Trait or Strength

When “Empathy” is referred to as a trait or strength it is a trademarked Gallup term.  I’ll also be using “Empathy” in the context of an Emotional Intelligence skill as measured by the EQi-2.0 Emotional Intelligence assessment I’m trained and certified to administer and coach around.

This is one of 34 traits that according to Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, we all have within us.  What’s unique and fascinating about this particular trait and the other 33 traits on Gallup’s list is that while we all have Empathy somewhere on our traits list, we all have Empathy showing up at a different place on our list of traits.

The sweet spot for empathy is somewhere between the marshmallow and the steel beam. 

My Research

When I surveyed business professionals to find out what traits they expected leaders to have, Empathy was one of the top traits business professionals sought in leaders.  People told me that they want the leaders they follow to care about their needs.  They want their leaders to be able to step into their shoes from time-to-time for a brief moment.

Empathy as a Strength

As a Trait or Strength, Empathy is a trait I don’t see very often in the Top 5 or Top 10 Traits or Strengths of technology leaders.  From time-to-time, I do see Empathy in a technology leader’s Top 5 or Top 10 traits or strengths and I get excited when I have an opportunity to coach this person because they have natural potential where others have to work much harder to get the same results.

The reason I get excited is that when someone has this trait high on their list of Traits or Strengths, I believe it truly is a gift.  There are other traits, skills and credentials that a person needs before they can be a great leader but without strong Empathy, becoming a great leader is likely to be a difficult journey.

Empathy as an Emotional Intelligence Skill

A person who has Empathy high on their Traits / Strengths generally has the ability to sense how other people feel.  This is a highly valuable emotional intelligence skill.  People gifted with Empathy also tend to have strong intuition.  This skill helps a technology leader with decision making when other technology professionals can usually only see cold hard facts and figures.

People with strong Empathy can sometimes be perceived to be soft or weak. 

A person who is high in Empathy really is someone who has the ability to create trust.  Trust is one of the top traits business professionals I surveyed told me they needed to see in a leader.

Find out if you have Empathy in your top traits or strengths.  If you aren't sure, I can help you. If you are sure that you have this trait in your top traits, I can help you to turn this trait into a powerful strength. 

Fortunately, empathy is also an emotional intelligence skill that can be developed.

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