Ty Kiisel: Help wanted: Emotionally fit leaders are needed more than ever

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 5:25 p.m. MST

The degree of your orientation toward yourself versus others: It’s been said that “you” is the most powerful word in the English language. It might be interesting to take your smartphone out during your next conversation with a colleague, record the interaction, and count how many times you say “I” versus how many times you say “you” during the conversation. I imagine you’d be surprised to learn just where you fall on the “yourself versus others” continuum.

How you balance your reliance between your thoughts, actions, and feelings: I think balance is the key here. Are your actions a reflection of your thoughts and feelings?

How accurate your empathy may be: This is really asking if you can put yourself in another man’s or woman’s shoes — and whether or not you really understand what it’s like. I’m amazed at how many leaders don’t seem to be able to do it and aren’t very accurate. I read awhile back that men who read novels (I assume the same is true for women, but men tend to read less fiction than women), are more empathetic. Reading fiction requires the reader to have empathy for the characters in order to engage with the story — in fact, it helps us learn how to be more empathetic. I can’t help but wonder if the fact so many men don’t spend time reading fiction is one of the reasons so few of them seem to be successful at understanding their colleagues and subordinates at work.

Your overall level of empathy and compassion: All this talk of empathy and compassion is likely a little too touchy-feely for some, but it’s a critical part of understanding what motivates people, how successful we are at communicating with people, and ultimately whether or not we are successful leaders.

It’s true that feelings might not be facts, but Peck suggests, “When you pump a little iron on finding the best balance between your thinking, actions and feelings, you can’t help but improve your career fitness as a leader, whether you are a new manager or CEO.”

I couldn’t agree more.

As a main street business evangelist and marketing veteran with more than 25 years in the trenches, Ty Kiisel writes about leading people and small-business issues for Lendio (lendio.com).

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