We’ve all heard about emotional intelligence. It is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Social awareness enables you to understand and respond to the needs of others. Understanding other people’s feelings are central to emotional intelligence. Leaders who are not socially aware or lack emotional intelligence can be seen as uncaring and insensitive. There are 3 reasons social awareness is a fundamental leadership principle.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s the secret sauce to any relationship, personal or professional and yet, somehow, it’s the ingredient many leaders keep getting wrong. As a leader, when an employee comes to you with a problem or complaint, try to put yourself in their situation by recalling a time you had a similar problem. If you see an employee struggling or you’ve noticed their productivity is lower than normal, instead of demanding they immediately shape-up or ship-out, ask them if everything is okay or if there is something you can help them with. A quiet, empathetic approach will be well-received and help the employee open up, making you aware of a situation that’s possibly an easy fix. Even if the problem is complex, it shows them that you are open to sitting down for a discussion to help find a resolution. Empathy is always more productive than discord.
Organizational awareness is the understanding of different aspects of the organization including the workings, structure, culture, politics, social, and economic issues. Being competent in organizational awareness allows talented leaders to get things done easily within the organization by having a full understanding of the structure in place. Organizational awareness is crucial when leaders consider new recruits, balancing the needs of the organization, and developing collaborative relationships within the organization.
Service orientation is the ability and desire to anticipate, recognize and meet others’ needs, sometimes even before those needs are articulated. Service-oriented people focus on providing satisfaction and making themselves available to others. Being astute to the needs of the organization and employees is critical. If adjustments are not made to meet those needs, failure is inevitable. Monetary compensation is not enough to keep good employees. Leaders who are service-oriented recognize their employees’ achievements regularly, which results in increased productivity.
Are you able to show empathy? Try showing empathy toward others when they exhibit behaviors that you typically respond to in a negative way. See if the outcome differs from how it has in the past. Do you have a full understanding of your organization? Seek out clarity on the medium and long-term goals of the organization – ask questions to be clear and then share the organizational awareness with your team. Are you service-oriented? Do you make yourself available to others? Do you understand the needs of your organization? Do you recognize your employees for a job well done? Social awareness is a fundamental leadership principle. Try incorporating these behaviors into your daily routine – you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.