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Jun 22, 2022

How to Defeat the Empathy Gap (Video & Podcast)

tags: leadership,video,decision making,wise decision making,leadership development,decision-making process,leaders,empathy gap

How to Defeat the Empathy Gap (Video & Podcast)

Leaders need to address the emotions of employees first and foremost in order to overcome the empathy gap through emotional and social intelligence. That's the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes how to defeat the empathy gap.

Video: “How to Defeat the Empathy Gap”

Podcast: “How to Defeat the Empathy Gap”

Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the wise decision maker show where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. And today will help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions about emotions, specifically a gap in emotions between leaders and their followers between executives and employees. And this is a gap called the empathy gap. And it leads to a lot of poor decisions in motivating employees and engaging with employees. Now, leaders often make poor decisions because of mental blind spots called cognitive biases. And the empathy gap is one of these cognitive biases, these cognitive biases that are over 100 of them, they are not conscious, we're not aware that we're making them otherwise we wouldn't be making them, they cause a lot of errors. So these are mental blind spots that result in planning decisions. And with the empathy gap that results specifically in bad decisions, because of us not noticing the emotions involved in decision making our emotions and our employees emotions. So this is crucial for us to realize, we underestimate the importance and impact of emotions, again, and especially our employees' emotions, when we are in a leadership position. It can really harm business relationships with our employees, and thus employee motivation. So you want to address it by applying two areas, two types of skills. One is emotional intelligence, understanding your own emotions, because if you don't understand your own emotions, you won't realize where your emotions about other people's emotions might be steering you astray. And then social intelligence, that is the skill of understanding and influencing other people's emotions and relationships. So apply emotional intelligence to your own emotions and social intelligence to other people's emotions. So let's talk about the empathy gap and employee performance. This is critical to understand leaders really focus on financial incentives as motivators, that is the fundamental basis of what leaders believe motivates employees. But when you look at the reality of extensive research, we see that honestly, financial incentives are not that effective for employees who are actually earning enough money to support a middle class lifestyle, they kind of fade out pretty quickly. So you are given a financial incentive, it works in the short term, and then it fades out, and then you have to ratchet things up. It's not a good approach. It's not a good technique. Financial Incentives are not very effective for long term motivation. So that is what you need to realize as a leader. Now, what you need to truly motivate employees, at least those who earn enough to be in a middle class lifestyle in their area, is other incentives, other types of incentives that have to do with more intrinsic extent incentives rather than extrinsic incentives. So extrinsic incentives are things that you give people intrinsic incentives are things that they feel internally. Now, these intrinsic incentives might have to do with external dynamics and their external context. But these intrinsic incentives are, in the end, something that they feel internally, things like recognition, they feel recognized. So are they recognized for the worker? Do they feel recognized as the critical question? Do they feel like they belong to a group in the workplace? Do they feel that there's a tribal belonging there? Is there a sense of purpose? Do they feel a sense of purpose in their work? These are the kinds of intrinsic motivators that truly drive people in the long term and you don't need to write them up. This is about creating an environment where recognition, tribal belonging and sense of purpose, that sense of recognition, internal sense of tribal belonging, internal sense of purpose is happening for employees. Now, what's going on here? How are these intrinsically motivated emotions connected to performance? Now, we talked about the empathy gap that's disconnect between leaders and their staff. So leaders underestimate these emotional drivers, these intrinsic emotional drivers where there's the sense of recognition, but tribal belonging purpose, and therefore their decision making. We don't recognize that employees ' decision making is fundamentally emotional. And there are others as well to be honest. So we are over 90% Emotional every one of us no matter how cold and rational and cool we might feel we are and we're only under 10% logical reason based in our decision making. So we need to realize That's what's happening to us. That is just part of who we are. That's our brains. And it's okay, that's fine. But that requires recognition and acceptance, for us to make good decisions. This recognition can be especially hard for more technically minded staff. So I've seen a lot of problems with more technically minded staff, where leaders think, technically minded staff or just cool rational folks are people, for example, like analysts and insurance, casual G analysts, actuarial analysts, all those sorts of folks, a lot of insurance professionals, programmers and tech are typically seen as cool and rational engineers, lawyers, doctors, this is these are people who are seen as technical staff, accountants, of course, technical professionals, and they're seen as cool, calm and rational. That is not the case. So that is why leaders have a lot of trouble figuring out how to motivate these technical staff. They figure Okay, these are cool, calm, unemotional, rational people who will motivate them with financial incentives and rational logical claims. That is not what actually works. That's not what drives people. That's not what motivates people. You want to motivate technical staff by appealing to fundamental emotional drivers that resonate strongly with technical staff, for example, positive reputation outside of the organization, and social status due to peer recognition. Now, there's a good story about this. So I was doing a trade, I was doing a consulting engagement for an engineering consulting firm. And how that started is that the engineering consulting firm was trying to motivate its engineers, to do more selling marketing actually seem to do more marketing, to do more conference presentations, do more blogs, so get the word out about the skills that they provide, so that they get more consulting projects. Now, the engineers are not so interested in these topics, though, the company found they were really fascinated that they were not really doing this marketing that the company wanted them to do. And so they tried to train them. They tried to provide guidance, they tried to say, Okay, how important is the company, for engineers to do this sort of stuff. But the engineers really were not doing it. So they brought me in to see what's going on. And I talked to the engineers, they saw that they weren't really emotionally engaged with doing blocks or doing conference presentations. They weren't emotionally engaged in solving their own technical problems, the actual consulting projects. So that was a problem. And I went to the HR chief, the HR VP brought me in, so the chief HR officer, and I told him that, hey, you know, your engineers are not really emotionally engaged with doing blocks of work and doing conference presentations. And the HR chief looked at me and said, engineers have emotions. And other people in the room laughed with a kind of laugh, where they were kind of an embarrassed laugh, where they were agreeing with the speaker, not like they were making fun of the speaker, not likely, they were making fun of the chief insurance. And they explained that yes, engineers have emotions, no matter how cool and calm and cold and rational they look. And that those emotions are not really going to enable them to be engaged with marketing efforts, unless you motivate them effectively, because of the financial incentives that they are trying to use and the rational arguments about the benefits of the company when cutting it. So I examined what was actually useful to motivate folks. And this positive reputation outside of the organization was very valuable, and social status. So we tweaked around a number of dynamics to make social status inside the company much more dependent on marketing and doing blogging, with getting clicks, and so on. And doing conference presentations, also on helping these engineers get positive reputation outside of the organization for their marketing contributions. And we saw a quick quick rise in marketing efforts by engineers. So that's what you do to address the empathy gap, effectively change messaging to address what employees actually desire instead of what the company needs, and frame organizational goals from the employees point of view. So what does the employee get from it in the past, the recognition outside the company, rather than the company getting projects, social status inside the company, rather than the company getting more money. So incorporate that social and that's based on social told intelligence, social intelligence and emotional intelligence into your messaging, and apply these research based strategies. That's how you're alive In internal culture, with remote employee emotional drivers, so that internal culture, which enables the motivation of what you actually want to change that internal culture to align with what actually drives employee desires, and that's how you defeat the empathy gap. All right, everyone. I hope you have found this episode of the wise decision maker show helpful, and it will hopefully help you address the empathy gap in your own team. Now, if you did like the show, please click like and share it with your friends, with your colleagues, with your neighbors, with their family members, and on social media. That is a great way to help people discover the show and help them get the benefit that you're getting from it. Leave a review for the show on Apple iTunes, on Amazon, for whatever you checked out this show. And please make sure to subscribe to the show. Whether we checked it out as a podcast or video cast. We are both so I'm very YouTube, subscribe to this channel on Apple iTunes. Subscribe to this podcast. That will be wonderful. Alright everyone, I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the wise decision maker show. And in the meantime, the wisest at most profitable decisions to you my friends.

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Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on June 14, 2022.

Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky helps tech and insurance executives drive collaboration, innovation, and retention in hybrid work. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which helps organizations adopt a hybrid-first culture, instead of incrementally improving on the traditional office-centric culture. A best-selling author of 7 books, he is especially well-known for his global best-sellers Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019) and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). His newest book is Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in prominent venues. They include Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, USA Today, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for mid-size and large organizations ranging from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from his research background as a cognitive scientist. After spending 8 years getting a PhD and lecturing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served for 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University’s Decision Sciences Collaborative and History Department. He lives in Columbus, Ohio (Go Bucks!) and in his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at

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