Emotional Intelligence: Empathy
Connecting with different generations has been a business topic for years and has significantly gained traction in recent years with millennials (those aliens of sorts) and Gen Z (aliens with even more different tentacles)! All kidding aside, there is good reason for these discussions as there has been frustration after frustration about leading the incoming workforce with the way they are wired with technology, instant gratification and some would say entitlement. Understood. There is no better time in history for leaders to emerge to coach and mentor this new workforce and it all starts with a social awareness of Empathy.
Empathy is the ability to put one in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is a core pillar of Emotional Intelligence and is a competency that great leaders possess. There is a unique paradox with empathy that has been misleading, well, leaders.
Empathy almost always increases with experience and general age. This is because as we evolve in life we acquire failures, setbacks and tragedy. These experiences, although very challenging at the time, build our empathy because we can only feel what someone else is feeling once we have felt it ourselves. IQ is more developed and fixed in our early years (see below graphic). But there is a disconnect that is the boiling frog syndrome that many leaders are not paying attention too and are slowly being cooked.
As we evolve and age we also distance ourselves from what we once were. It is a natural part of life’s journey and a good thing! Time puts us further removed from what we first felt and experienced in our first job or intense project…The challenges and struggles that can only be learned by where we start. It is that illusion that when we were younger we “would have never did that” or “had that figured out.” We all know a grandparent that walked to school uphill both ways. You get the point! This is a cycle that will be ongoing and yes, someday in the far future, Gen Z will be almost retiring frustrated and in confusion about young professionals they are trying to lead! When there is a self-awareness for these illusions an awesome opportunity to lead with empathy is born.
"As we evolve and age we also distance ourselves from what we once were."
The new leaders have the Emotional Intelligence with heightened self AND social awareness that time has removed them from what they once felt and completely use their increased empathy over time advantageously to lead, coach and develop their people. More seasoned leaders have the empathy of how they would operate as a young professional if they grew up in the dot-com boom era. They connect, inspire and build cultures of excellence with this empathy and embrace the opportunity to learn new technologies and more efficient ways to get things done. They embrace change and new ways to do things. Old inefficient ways are discarded, quickly. Young professionals respond to this empathy with eagerness to learn, be coached and contribute to the organization! They are set on fire!
Empathy is where many of these generational conversations start and stop and now is the time to step up, lead humanity and channel your empathy across all generations. May all of humanity have more Emotional Intelligence: Awareness, Adaptability and Empathy for 21st Century Leadership.
To your continued success,
Founder, Employ Humanity
Inspiring Emotional Intelligence in humans and the workplace