Most leaders have learned along the way that empathy is a critical leadership skill but few have an understanding of why. Empathy is a form of attention that goes beyond the intellect and involves directly sensing what it is like to be in someone else's shoes. How do we do this?
We sense what other people are experiencing or feeling by sensations that arise in our own bodies. All of us are like walking antennas, receiving and registering the felt experience of those around us. Some of us are better at this than others.
Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer and the crocuses are poking up their hopeful heads. Yet, these remain bleak times for too many job seekers, even leaders and managers with impressive resumes.
The Drucker School of Management and Wharton Business School both offer courses in mindfulness meditation. Virginia Tech is sponsoring "contemplative practices for a technological society," a conference for engineers who integrate contemplative disciplines into their work. Google offers courses in meditation and yoga
Aetna, Merck, General Mills--the list goes on--all are exploring how meditation can help their leaders and employees agilely thrive in today's fast-paced business environment. And the benefits are widely publicized: sustained attention span, improved multi-tasking abilities, strengthened immune system, increased emotional intelligence, improved listening skills...And there is science behind such claims.
Nothing tells you more about an organization than the way it makes decisions. Do leaders trust team members? Do the people closest to the action get to make the call? Do team members have real responsibility and real control?
Words matter. The right word makes a world of difference in what’s communicated and understood. Mark Twain observed, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lighting and a lightning bug.”
Habits of Mind are dispositions that are skillfully and mindfully employed by characteristically intelligent, successful people when they are confronted with problems, the solutions to which are not immediately apparent. When we draw upon these mental resources, the results are more powerful, of higher quality, and of greater significance than if we fail to employ those habits.
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