Working with Emotional Intelligence – Drive and Empathy

In October & November our Working with Emotional Intelligence meetings covered Chapter 6 – What Moves Us and Chapter 7 – Social Radar. Overall both chapters didn’t generate much heated debate at all, partly because we’re all very similar in these areas and also that there wasn’t much content that anyone saw as controversial.

Chapter 6 – What Moves Us?

The great thing about working with my team is that everyone is self-motivated, that’s not to say that everyone is a Type A personality at all. What I mean is that everyone has their own initiative, the desire to get things done. It displays itself in different ways; some are fixers that prefer to focus energy on resolving issues while others are designers that get energy from creating solutions.  That drive though to roll their sleeves up and tackle whatever is on the plate today exists for all of us. The Chapter outlines three different areas under motivation; Achievement Drive, Commitment & Initiative/Optimism; most of our discussion focused on how individual performance is impacted depending on where your strengths are. Achievement and Commitment were seen more as management/manager type skills while Initiative/Optimism were deemed necessary for good team performance. That brought up a deeper discussion on personal vs work goals and how we all display various level of those three areas depending on what the task is, an interesting thought when you consider this as a performance indicator (If I’m really interested in a given goal will I be more motivated and committed to complete it?).

Chapter 7 – Social Radar

Our entire Social Radar conversation revolved around the concept of empathy – being able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes to better understand their point of view, their needs, or their position. Part of being a great IT person is centered in that ability…I know… hold on…hear me out! In IT positions we’re continually solving problems that we ourselves are not experiencing, whether it’s designing a report for a group of analysts, troubleshooting an issue with a website or drafting documentation on how to use a process, to be successful we have to have the ability to put ourselves into another’s view point in order to accomplish the task at hand. If we aren’t able to do so we end up with poorly designed products, frustrated users and inefficient processes, which should eventually mean we work ourselves out of a job.

I know what you’re thinking here and I agree that traditionally the social radar skill set is not something many introverts (because naturally all introverts are IT people) are well versed in but they usually are service orientated so it’s really only a matter of taking that customer focus a step further to understanding the customer. Easy, yes? Well, I’ll admit that six months into our Agile transition does probably help with this area, when you move from designing based on function to designing based on roles and user stories you’re definitely getting more empathy into the process from the start.

Next up we’re going to tackle influence, an area that most of us don’t really understand or get to play in.



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