Empower Your Leadership With Empathy
Whether tuning into today’s news, social media or even conversations among co-workers and contemporary leaders, you’ll find abundant criticism and obsession with others’ pain, misfortune or failure. In fact, there’s so much of this going on, it can be hard to escape its impact and avoid getting caught up in it. Clearly, if this aspect of our culture permeates the workplace it can undermine healthy teams, productivity and performance. Effective leaders get this and use empathy to build a positive culture that make their organizations a good place to work. Model behaviors based in empathy and focus on what’s positive and productive about the people you lead.
Here are three ways to bring empathy and compassion to your leadership and people:
1. Be In The Moment
Remaining present with your people is perhaps one of the most powerful tools for enabling potential empathy and compassion in your leadership. When you are focused on the person or team before you, listening to what they have to say and/or observing them authentically, it doesn’t just show respect for others but allows you the chance to connect with them, listen, ask good questions, and learn what they’re feeling. If struggles exist, you can then take action and help, whether that’s getting involved yourself or providing the resources to support them. Being in the moment also opens a gate that can enable you to respond with empathy if appropriate. It puts others first for just that moment and, that in and of itself, is a compassionate leadership activity.
2. Foster Positive Communication
As a leader, you’ll find there are so many tactics for doing this. So keep in mind, the goal is to adopt a communication style that helps rather than hurts, enabling your people to feel empowered in healthy, productive ways. For example, teach instead of tell, coaching your people in a way that facilitates learning and understanding rather than just tells them what to do. Also, choose your words carefully when you communicate verbally and in writing. In addition, think before you speak—make sure what you’re saying is coming from a place rooted in truth as opposed to falsehood (or the wrong motivations). Establish the expectation of such communications among your management teams, so they, too, are modeling these behaviors for their direct reports and the company at large. That’s how you impact a whole culture from the top down.
3. Recognize Employees
Set up a recognition program where employees can recognize an individual for displaying behaviors that align to the organization’s values. It could be as simple as writing a thank you note to a fellow co-worker who helped with a tough task that gets shared with the team. Or it could be recognizing employees who mentor others in an area of need. Remember, as the leader, you will need to partake in this activity yourself, being a role model and setting the positive example.
When is the last time you recognized your employees?