One of our primary jobs as consultants is to be able to understand business and operational problems for our clients so that we are able to help them solve these in the most optimal fashion. The emphasis is on “understand” – the skill also known as empathy.
There are special neurons in our brains responsible for empathy – these are called Mirror Neurons. As the name suggests, these neurons are fired when an event is observed and they fire the similar response as if experiencing the observed event. The level of response and the ability to empathise varies with individuals but, just like everything else, training will improve the skill.
In business, the profitability of any organisation depends on its ability to retain the best talent within and create effective long term relationships with its clients. Global trends, though, suggest that organisations are constantly downsizing and re-engineering themselves to compete in the global market. In such an environment, establishing trust and getting closer to employees and customers could be a real differentiator in achieving long-term success.
Daniel Goleman, a Harvard-educated PhD in Psychology classifies empathy under the umbrella of “Emotional Intelligence”, which is also the title of his best-selling book published in 1995. He defines Emotional Intelligence (shorthand EQ) as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”.
The Harvard Business Review has hailed emotional intelligence as “a ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea,” one of the most influential business ideas of the decade.
Research conducted by the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations states: ‘In jobs of medium complexity (sales clerks, mechanics), a top performer is 12 times more productive than those at the bottom and 85 percent more productive than an average performer. In the most complex jobs (insurance salespeople, account managers), a top performer is 127 percent more productive than an average performer (Hunter, Schmidt, & Judiesch, 1990). Competency research in over 200 companies and organizations worldwide suggests that about one-third of this difference is due to technical skill and cognitive ability while two-thirds is due to emotional competence (Goleman, 1998). In top leadership positions, over four-fifths of the difference is due to emotional competence.’
So what part does the EQ play in your organisation? Are you set to create long term relationships with your employees and your customers and increase your profitability?