Archive: July, 2012

empathy leadership awareness

Empathy – Towards Empathic Leadership

What is empathy? If you think it’s lightweight, airy fairy, post-modern self-help delusion, then check out this short animation from Jeremy Rifkin and the Royal Society of Arts. Could just be that we are all soft-wired for empathy and that it evolved as more of a pragmatic behaviour. If we embrace this notion, there could be a multitude of ramifications for how we live and work.

Survival of the most Empathic

Empathy is the lubrication that maintains strong relationships and allows us to build trust with others both personally and professionally. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and seeing something as the other guy does are invaluable survival techniques. When a child sees an adult obviously in a state of upset, it’s common for the child to offer their favourite toy to that adult in a bid to cheer them up. Often this seemingly selfless action surprises us.

But perhaps deep within our collective unconscious, this ability or skill is as fundamental as any form of communication. Perhaps in ensuring all members of the tribe are healthy and happy, our ancestors ensured the overall tribe and therefore the “selfish” or individualistic survival needs of every member were met. In other words, by using empathy we look after the collective and in doing so increase our personal survival.

Empathy for Leaders

Actors are truly aware of how to use and display their empathy. In approaching a role, the actor has to use her own experience and memory of events and emotions to connect with a character in a play. To really get a handle on how the character talks, walks, acts and feels, the actor has to stretch herself and explore human behaviour as fully as possible.

What learning then could be transposed for today’s business leaders? Many of whom are focused on the bottom line, share price, their own stock options, their personal profile… As opposed to really understanding the wants, needs, motivations and emotions of the people who are the organisation.

It’s a well worn cliche that “our people are greatest assets” or words to that effect. If you’re a business leader, isn’t it time you carved out time to understand your greatest assets..?

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication


Be Authentic

Be Authentic – Attend a Conference as Yourself

How to be authentic? What does that actually mean? And who am I without my accomplishments – past, present or future? We all hang labels on ourselves and others. Indeed we’re pretty much trained to do this from the get go. We define ourselves by our jobs, specific roles, industry sectors, educational backgrounds, family backgrounds, race, religion…. But and this is kinda impossible to do, who are we if we could strip away those societal layers..? Would that stripped down person be our natural, authentic self..?

Meet New People

Intriguing and illuminating Harvard Business Review article on how to just be yourself when meeting new folk at a conference.

Many of us label ourselves according to our professional role and thats the prism we then view life through. When meeting people for the first time we tend to offer up “I’m an engineer” or “I’m an actor” etc quite readily. In so doing we label ourselves and attempt, albeit subconsciously, to restrict other people’s perceptions of us into the pre-determined arena we would rather they see us in.

It is controlling behaviour and smacks of inherent fear. Great advantages lie in store for those willing to temporarily suspend the importance of their titles, rank and status and just be in the moment. We are all imperfect and vulnerable. If we can trust ourselves to show some of that vulnerability to others, then those people will trust us – because they will see their own vulnerabilities reflected back – and so they will know us.

Allowing Ourselves to be Authentic

If we could allow our ego’s to chill out and just be in the moment, viewing the familiar and unknown with the same optimism then we get out of our own way. Then we strip layers of padding – our role, company etc – away and are more vulnerable and open to change and new experiences. Which in turn lead to new adventures as our authentic selves, personally and professionally.

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication

Emotional Intelligence growth decade

Emotional Intelligence – Decade of Personal Growth

Awareness of Emotional Intelligence has grown rapidly over the last 10 years. A crucial area of analysis in terms of personal and professional development. The phrase was first coined by leadership figure and journalist Daniel Goleman.

Emotional intelligence is all about understanding your own emotional state in any given moment and being able to understand that of those around you as well. There are great personal benefits in understanding why you feel any particular emotion and being able to clearly distinguish and articulate what you are feeling is immensely powerful. Of course, this meat and drink to those of us who work in theatre and drama, where fundamental emotions are our stock in trade.

Report on Emotional Intelligence

Intriguing read about the development of “Emotional Intelligence” over the last 10 years, now viewed as a crucial area of analysis in terms of personal development and leadership. This report looks at 15 or so key composite areas within the field of Emotional Intelligence and offers insightss based on industry, age, gender, culture etc. Interestingly the self-employed tend to have a higher overall level of EI – something to be said for living as a forager and not relying on the falsehood of job security and making things happen…?

Why do business leaders lack Emotional Intelligence?

Perhaps surprisingly and despite an avalanche of research, discussion and debate, many C-suite leaders are still emotionally inept. Why is that? A recent survey concluded that middle managers often have far more emotional intelligence than those at the top of organisations. Could it be that they are more skilled in people management as they have to make people related decisions everyday? Whereas the average CEO rarely has to encounter the same number of ground troops.

Perhaps organisations are still focused on tangibles and hard figures above all else. A decade of emotional intelligence is just the beginning…

Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.

Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication