"In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart'" - Nehemiah 2:1-2.
Nehemiah was the king's personal servant and came into the king's presence burdened for Jerusalem and the condition of his people there. The king could have easily dismissed Nehemiah's countenance or missed it altogether. Instead, the king not only noticed how sad Nehemiah was but also asked the reason. The most powerful man in the kingdom was watching his people, 'read' where they were at, and then cared enough to inquire what was going on. This is a classic example of emotional intelligence, for the king was not just observant, but also empathetic enough to probe the matter to see if he could help. When Nehemiah shared his grief, the king helped set a plan in motion to relieve Nehemiah and rebuild Jerusalem.
LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to improve your ability to 'read' the people around you, especially those with whom you work. First of all, try to do less business via email or phone and have more face-to-face time so you can observe the people while you chat. Then pay attention to body language - when they cross their arms, wiggle in their chairs, or get a sad or excited look on their face - and then pursue what's going with questions on to see how you can help them.