Monday, 10 November 2014


The big word of today is “empathy”. You cannot lead people if you don’t listen to them. You cannot lead people if you don’t put yourself in their position. The most important skill is to be seen to understand them well enough so they follow you willingly and not with suspicious minds

You’ll do this by inspiring them, involving them and thinking about how they think. Don’t just tell them to do something. Get on their wavelength. This is called “altrocentric leadership” (“altrocentric” is the opposite of egocentric) and leaders of today are expected to be good at it….or else.

Any business where there isn’t a high level of trust throughout the team is in trouble.

Unless we can build relationships based on trust, our working lives will be difficult. Christopher Locke in “The Cluetrain Manifesto” describes a vision of the future that most of us would sign up to.  “Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge”.  Yes. I’d sign up to that and also to a world where people forgave each other.

Rodney King was famously beaten up by the LA Police after a high speed car chase in 1991. King had criminal form and was not a blameless individual but his words are noble.  “Please can we all get along ….I mean we’re stuck here for a while…we can sort it out”.

In its simplest form, empathy is what it is to feel like being in someone else’s shoes. We can get empathy through reading a novel or seeing a play. We can “feel” the pain, the rage or the desire and it’s probably impossible for us to torture people if we can empathise with them. And it seems to be unique to human beings since even the most developed primates appear not to empathise.

Looking very briefly at the science, neuroscientists like Marco Iacoboni have argued that mirror neuron systems in the human brain help us understand the actions and intentions of other people by quite simply mirroring what other people do. He argues that mirror neurons are the neural basis of the human capacity for empathy which is the very key to our understanding the actions of other people. In the business world the importance of this is self-evident.

How to solve problems and make brilliant decisions. (Business Thinking Skills that really work) published by Pearson is coming out on November 12th 2014

No comments: