A canoe team rowing with power in order to win the competition. On background morning light through the forest.


We often talk about leaders who lack emotional intelligence, but a distortion in EI can also go too far in a leader. EMPLATHY is a critical competency for understanding other’s point of view and finding common ground with people whose experiences differ greatly from our own. But great leaders also balance their empathy with strengths in other competencies.

Leaders who have a mindset that empathy does not allow feedback, may have deficits in related EI competencies, such as conflict management. Misinterpretation of a leader’s role and what empathy means can lead to avoid tough decision-making as well as not giving negative feedback.

Leaders who balance their competency in empathy with EMOTIONAL SELF-CONTROL excel at giving constructive feedback. These leaders also foster norms around honest communication, yielding teams that openly address problems and create goal-oriented solutions.

Emotional self-control enables leaders to manage their emotions and impulses. You can remain calm even under stress or during a crisis. By finding this emotional balance, you can utilize your empathy in a productive way.

It’s important to be attuned to your employees and to have an understanding of their lives outside the office. But when you need to deliver tough feedback or make a difficult decision, keeping your own disturbing emotions in balance keeps them from clouding your best judgment.

Great leaders have strengths not only in emotional intelligence but also in abilities and skills like integrity and strategic thinking. They apply these abilities as needed, based on factors like the situation and current objectives. A daily team meeting may primarily require integrity, empathy, and inspirational leadership. Yet when faced with the potential loss of a major customer, other abilities like influence, strategy, and determination would come to the forefront. By balancing an array of skills, great leaders prepare themselves for a multitude of circumstances and challenges. And with a clear vision and set of values, they can remain true to themselves along the way.


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