Leaders, Are You Helpfully Objective or Actually Indifferent? | #leadership
by Kate Nasser | 20 Comments »
Leaders claim objectivity is valuable in preventing emotionally skewed decisions. Yet if leaders detach to be objective or come across as indifferent, they disengage employees and results suffer.
Leaders, are you helpfully objective or actually indifferent?
- Considers all perspectives to ensure accurate results
- Researches what is behind emotion to unearth weighty factors
- Gets close enough to find and see the truth
- Respects passion’s lift more than it fears its drag
- Boldly taps emotion to inspire and engage employees
Objectivity Turns Into or Seems Like Indifference
When leaders …
- Glorify measurements over all other types of information
- Distance themselves in the fear that getting close will limit their honesty and objectivity
- Mislabel all passion as illogical
- Act solo because they lack trust in those around them
- Revel in the comfort and false security of their own views and personality type
- Push aside diverse new views under the guise of tried-and-true ways
- Hold their positional power and/or expertise as the ultimate factor in decision making
Objectivity requires a true and complete picture. It sees the value of emotion. It understands diverse factors and perspectives.
Meanwhile, fear, the comfort of habit, and love of data and procedures try to disguise indifference as objectivity. The disguise backfires and leads to a skewed view and poor decisions.
Identify what obstacles are keeping you from engaging with employees, from seeing diverse views, and from building closer relationships. Develop emotional intelligence to overcome those blocks! It is far easier than you think and the business rewards are great.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
5 Steps to Developing Emotional Intelligence
Leadership Engagement: How to Reach Employees Not Preach to Them
Want Engaged Employees: Don’t Confuse Contentment w/ Lack of Ambition
Grateful for the use of Image by: HikingArtist.com via Flickr Creative Commons License.
©2013-2015 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email email@example.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Very insightful Kate.
I keep learning from your articles every time I read one.
“Developing emotional intelligence and overcoming those blocks is far easier than you think and the rewards to true objectivity are great.”
Emotional intellegence is THE key over here.
Thank you Khalid. I am a teacher and learner at heart. EI is so very important for it draws people together for success.
I am here for you and your teams any time!
I do like this post Kate.One of the biggest and most valuable abilities for a leader is Emotional Intelligence. I have always considered EQ to be far more important that IQ. So many times we see people with very high IQ’s working for people with average IQ’s but whose EQ is far greater than their employees IQ’s. (Thats a lot of initials!) The leaders with great EQ really know how to put people and teams and companies together and have no fear of employing people who are ‘more clever’ or higher IQ’s than them
A true and complete picture is needed to be objective, how can we be objective if we do not have the complete view.
Excellent post. I would love to share it on my blog as it hits so many areas I work in.
So very pleased you found this valuable Dave. You mentioned you wanted to share it on your blog. Would you be open to putting the opening excerpt and then connecting them to the full post on my blog?
Of course Kate…whatever gives full credit and drives traffic to this post on your site
Such an important distinction for leaders of all levels and types. Also an important lesson in relationships of any kind (professional or personal). Time and time again I see leaders who simply are unaware of the difference between these two and they can’t figure out why things are difficult in their organization. Thanks for such a great post!
So pleased William that you found it worthy of your comment. I like the highlight you put on professional AND personal relationships for it affects both. Indifference is a killer; objectivity helps many.
This reminds me of what I was trying to say in my comment on your last post, “Super Customer Experience: Feelings Aren’t Random.” I sense there’s a significant difference between using an apparently “objective” mindset that either dismisses or modulates the subjective experience of someone else (an employee, customer or colleague), and a mindset leading to radical empathy and understanding by really trying to place oneself into the full experience of another. Often times, our empathy is limited to “I get you,” based on a lot of assumptions, and mostly determined by what about your experience seems superficially comprehensible to me. Radical empathy is beyond that and is truly about what I don’t yet get, don’t understand about you, and maybe cannot, given my own ways of thinking, feeling and believing. That kind of empathy is about a deeper, more fearless kind of listening, actually entering and learning to thrive on what is unknown. John Wenger does a great job of exploring this territory in his post, “Beyond Empathy.” He highlights the value and challenge of truly getting into another’s skin via a technique he uses in his work, called role reversal.
I would add that any of us, and especially when we feel responsible for carrying out a management post, can be threatened and destabilized by another’s experiences, perceptions, beliefs and insights that run counter to our own preferred, more or less sacred perspectives. Maintaining that front of objectivity may very well belie how limited and emotional our responses actually are, and may subtly convey how sensitive and perfectionistic we are to any form of weakness, disagreement, or conflict. I suspect this kind of “objectivity” is also a cultural as much as a personal routine with management groups, one intended to help members look good while preserving authorities, superiorities, pecking orders, and acceptance by peers. For sure its about winning and losing and not being embarrassed.
For all of this we can afford to be compassionate with ourselves. We are, after all, part of a system. But it ain’t leadership yet to accept it, just because many organizations operate this way. Your post rightly calls for a higher order of personal self-knowledge, responsibility and action.
Your incredible ability to go deeper into a subject leads those that are truly blocked from emotion to go beyond it. The emotions that you highlight here from embarrassment to conflict are some of the most powerful and leaders do well to understand who they are and how to overcome the blocks!
I can simplify this even further as I like the brevity of this post.
You have to, as a leader, connect emotionally to the organization. However, you have to make decisions rationally.
If you can do this, then you can be a connected leader that can handle the toughest of situations.
A compass is indifferent. It shows direction, but in itself does not show where you are or where you are going.
A map is objective. It shows the bigger picture and opens possibilities. But in itself it doesn’t show you where you should go.
A leader shows where we are, articulates a vision of where we are going and sets a course for getting there. They are objectively open to possibilities, and with “emotional intelligence” choose wisely. To effectively lead they must lead from who they are, and emotions are part of that package. When effective leaders consider direction and means, but keep their focus first on the people they lead, their emotions empower them rather than divert them.
A follower also must me objectively open. Otherwise views that don’t match theirs will be seen as indifference.
Thank you, Kate, for the thought provoking post and for opening a good discussion.
Very very interesting analogy from compass to map to leader. Nice! I also agree that “followers” or as I like to call them “collaborators” must be open as well.
Many thanks for sharing your wisdom here.
Great Post Kate! You make great distinctions that all leaders should be aware or. It’s easy to fall into traps that send messages that we don’t intend to send.
It is a very key distinction especially in professions with strong/rigid occupational training. Science, medicine, technology, law, finance — these fields sometimes breed objectivity to a point that those practicing it come across as indifferent. Certainly not all and I am not broad brushing everyone. And I do see it changing which is very encouraging.
Many thanks for your comment here!
I’ve always been suspicious of the whole objectivity thing. As the godfather said, all business is personal!! Possibly not a great person to quote but you are right to question how a pretense of objectivity could be seen as just not caring. Personally I’m inspired by leaders with passion. Passionate people tend not to be objective because they have a view that transcends facts and figures.
Thanks as ever Kate for getting me thinking!!
I too find passion to be filled with inspiration Andy. I have met a couple of leaders whose passion burned others (no pun intended) for they would never allow people time to embrace the passion. They expected immediate passion in return and as a result failed miserably. Leaders who balance passion with employee engagement do well!
Many thanks for your contribution here!
Nicely done Kate. I especially like the line, “Act solo because they lack trust in those around them”. I think that is one that many leaders battle with. It is so important to trust in your people, and I can tell you from personal experience from both sides that they know when you do, and it shows in performance.
Always a pleasure to read and share your stuff…
Thanks Gerry. Trust is a big part of it. Many leaders struggle with having the ultimate responsibility for results while needing to trust others to make it happen. In the end, they must wisely trust or they end up realizing the very thing they fear.
By far the best line in this blog post is: “Objectivity requires a true and complete picture.” WOW! Leaders really have to be intentional about getting a complete picture. Notice I said “intentional”. And getting that complete picture may require different methods for different situations. We have to care enough to get it right. As you said, research, engagement and respect are big.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Joshua. I encounter so many biz leaders who have mistaken the “data only” view as more objective. This causes so many problems both in quality of decision and employee engagement.
That’s where my advice “Objectivity requires a true and complete picture” came from!
So pleased you weighed in on this post. Hope you are having a wonderful New Year.