John Maxwell says,
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Now, if you’ve been reading my emails long, you certainly know the name John Maxwell – and even if you haven’t, you might very well still know the name. He is one of the world’s foremost leadership experts. But still, it is difficult for many leaders to take a relational approach to getting more from their teams.
Well, some leaders have a more task-oriented or results-oriented leadership style. These leaders might not consider a relational approach practical. Others might think that they might not be able to have much empathy for their team because leaders must sometimes make unpopular decisions. Some see empathy as avoiding confrontation or criticism, and still others feel they just aren’t able to emotionally invest in their teams.
But at the end of the day…
…empathy is one of the greatest ways that leaders can get more from their teams.
Think about it like this: What’s the one thing in your life that affects everything else? Your mood, your relationships, your finances, your diet…
…your job, your productivity, your efficiency, your ability to handle stress, your problem-solving skills, your creativity?
(Hint: all of those things start with you!)
When we are doing well, everything in our lives seems to go better (or, at least, we don’t let the small things get in our way). And when we are not, everything seems a thousand times more difficult and inconvenient.
Every member of your team has a life with its own problems and challenges. The difference that a moment of empathy – or better yet, a habit – of empathy – can make in the work lives of your team is night and day. According to a 2021 study by the nonprofit organization Catalyst, empathetic leadership is associated with increased innovation, retention, and engagement, and reduced emotional burnout.
Innovative employees find creative solutions to organization-wide problems. Talented team members who stay on longer maintain morale and improve the organizations’ investment in them. And engaged team members invest greater energy into their roles – and, quite frankly, have the potential to produce inspired work.
I must say it again: empathy is one of the greatest ways that leaders can get more from their teams.
If you’re a task- or results-focused leader wondering how to develop your empathetic leadership, consider these three techniques:
1. Active listening. Listening goes beyond hearing, and does a decent amount of communicating, too. Active listening involves fully concentrating, thoroughly considering, and fully deferring the time to the person talking. Avoid judging, advising, or interrupting – instead, ask open-ended questions, and summarize what they’ve said to confirm you understand. Active listening is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure your team members know you care about what they have to say.
2. Emotional intelligence training. How well do you know yourself? Self-awareness is a cornerstone of effective leadership, and emotional intelligence training can expand it. And the better we understand our own emotions, the better we are able to understand and respond empathetically to the emotions of others.
3. Promoting a culture of empathy. A leader’s greatest influence is their example. When you act empathetically toward your team, you demonstrate to them that your organization values empathy. You can also cultivate a culture of empathy by rewarding team members who practice empathy and encouraging employees to share their experiences with one another.
American politician Bill Bullard said,
“The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.”
And for your team, your organization, and your own leadership ability, it’s one of the greatest skills you can develop.
That’s all for now. 🙂
Become your best version,
Get My Free Guide: 5 Strategies for Retaining Top Talent
Voluntary turnover it’s an ALARMINGLY preventable problem.
To combat this, I have outlined five leadership strategies that will keep your top performers leaned in and performing.