One skill every successful leader needs: empathy

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UPIC Health founder Mary Tucker carries three mantras: be happy, be awesome, and help others with becoming one and two.

“What we’re asking of ourselves and everybody in the organization, is take responsibility for your emotions, which requires a certain level of emotional intelligence,” she said.

Tucker says it’s important to teach emotional intelligence while also “digging deep inside and understanding what our limitations are, and being honest about them.”

By recognizing “what our needs and motivations are as individuals, and recognizing that they may at times be at odds with others… and learning skills to resolve conflict,” said Tucker, one can learn a more complete and actually useful idea of empathy.

“Empathy… it is the number one driver of our cultural DNA at UPIC health,” Tucker told What’s Working in Washington.

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Instead of just emotional intelligence, it’s a system of real understand of both your needs and others’, and mitigating conflict between these effectively.

“We’re human beings. We’re living, breathing, feeling human beings, who recognize when something in our lives isn’t going in a way that is consistent with what our needs are, and if we can recognize that phenomenon in our work every single day, then we’ll be likely to make different choices and decisions that could be in better service to the people that we’re serving,” said Tucker.

“We recognize we’re in a complex world. And we recognize our employees are trying to navigate their young lives in a really complex world,” said Tucker.

In response, UPIC Health is working to build a program “to give a process and voice and structure around their challenges, their issues, empowering but also creating an operational model within the organization that allows for time for this,” she said.

“I think if leaders could find a way to express that and find that authenticity in how they work, they may get some tough feedback, but they’re realize they’ll be better leaders, and they’ll have better, stronger organizations as a result.”