There is currently a lack of empathy in the 21st century working environment, which is preventing the growth of socially aware leaders. Geographically dispersed teams, digital communication, social networking, video conferencing and other forms of new media are being blamed.
Without the signals of body language and non-verbal communication; without knowing our team members and with the additional ability to log off, unfriend, delete and ignore, we aren’t taking action to understand the needs of others.
According to Daniel Goleman, the competencies associated with being socially aware are:
Empathy: understanding others’ emotions, needs and concerns
Organisational awareness: the ability to understand the politics within an organisation and the effect on the workforce.
Service: the ability to understand and meet the needs of clients and customers.
In other words, be able to read the (hypothetical) room, be the shoulder to cry on and the punching bag until people are working effectively together.
Physical presence is critical
Trust is the greatest determinant of success in relationships, business or otherwise. This can only be built with face-to-face interaction and communication.
A recent Gallup survey found that 51% of actively disengaged associates would get rid of their leader if they could, and one quarter of all employees say they would like the opportunity. What then, are our leaders doing to solidify trusting relationships?
Building social awareness
Here, we look at ways leaders can improve their social awareness.
Discover your style
Complete an Insights Discovery Personal Profile and get your team to follow suit. Discover your style and how others perceive you and in turn understand others so that you can effectively adapt to meet their needs, gain trust and create authentic workplace relationships.
Observe the room
Be it a conversation with a colleague or a full team meeting, watch your audience for a few minutes prior to engaging them. Note the overall feel. Is the mood negative or positive? Is there silence? Are people laughing? Clear the air to settle the room. If you and your team have been profiled, use them!
Show your colours
Consider how you might be being perceived. What is your facial expression and body language conveying? Are you holding back or too involved?
Social awareness should eventually be built into your daily interactions. Pay attention, give everyone a voice, listen, follow up diligently and mark progress as a collective.
The Colour Works
This article was brought to you by The Colour Works, a team of personal, team and leadership development specialists who have been transforming performance globally for over a decade.