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Derek Bishop

Culture Consultancy

Director

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Everything spot on

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In a fascinating discussion on Radio 5 sports people and experts discussed the effect which changing equipment can have on performance.  In the discussion we were treated to a host of stories about the perils of the ways in which sponsorship demands or being expected to use different equipment can affect playing performance.  From the cricket bat manufacturer who changed all of the stickers on a bat part way through an innings to the player who prefers a certain kit colour some of the stories may seem picky but the point was made that for top sports people everything has to be spot on or their mental approach suffers.

But it isn’t just sports people who can be affected by their working environment.  Re-vamp an office and performance can change markedly, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.  Change a process and our innate resistance to change can lead to all sorts of knock-on problems.  Shuffle teams or move to hot desking and if you aren’t prepared, just wait for the fireworks to start. 

Put simply, people aren’t robots and any leader who wants to get the best from their people will need to empathise if they are to engage.  Some leaders may yearn for the day when “do as I say and don’t ask questions” ruled the workplace but those days are gone and leaders who have not embraced softer skills such as empathy and emotional intelligence are in for a fall. 

The world of 21stC business is a multi-generational, multi-cultural one.  Unless its leaders take the time to understand people's emotional drivers and what makes them tick then they won’t be able to have have any sort of meaningful dialogue with their employees and they certainly won't get the responses which they need when trying to change the culture or engage people’s hearts and minds in the organisation.  When planning, when creating the vision and leading the organisation forward, the leader who can empathise and communicate is far more likely to succeed than one who expects employee compliance to be a tick box exercise.

And let’s take the time now to dispel one myth about “soft” skills.  Just because they are soft doesn’t mean that they can’t be measured.  For example the Culture Consultancy engage model looks at Purpose, Policies, Relationships, Enablement, Environment and Well Being of employees.  Leaders who foster a culture of collaboration in which relationships are open and honest and in which people are treated as individuals are far more likely to be leading a business in which strong employee engagement translates into high reputation and high profits.

Can leaders be trained to refine their emotional intelligence and empathise with the team?  Yes, in the majority of cases they can.  We’ll pass over the 4% of leaders which studies suggest may be psychopaths and we’ll ignore the manager who returned from a course and asked every female team member to tell him their personal problems and in the process reduced half of them to tears and instead we’ll concentrate on the vast majority of leaders who understand instinctively that empathy leads to engagement and engagement leads to teamwork, a happier working environment and a better outcome for the organisation.

Perhaps as we are entertained by the tales of sports stars who insist on the right footwear, the right hat, the right clubs we can also learn that getting the atmosphere right, managing change and creating an engaged workforce matters as much in the office as it does in the sporting arena.  Treating all our people with respect and emotional intelligence may not seem important when faced with targets and the day to day business grind but in the end it may just be the one thing which differentiates the business star from the also-ran.

Author Profile Picture
Derek Bishop

Director

Read more from Derek Bishop
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