When in elementary school, I remembered having favorite teachers, and they were all different in their own way. Back then, I couldn’t find common ground as to why I liked them so much in spite of their differences. One favorite teacher had a particularly good knack of making everything fun and exciting. Another favorite was so detailed and knowledgeable in her subject you could almost see the information radiating from her mind.
My most favorite teacher was an old man who patiently taught us TLE classes and would never tire of answering our questions; even the nonsensical ones. No matter how different they were, there was something about them collectively that had me wanting to connect with them more as a child.
Is there a secret sauce to leading? Is there a way to let people migrate at your influence? As I grew older and worked with different mentors, slowly discovered the singular factor that made them all respected, loved, and productive educators: EMPATHY.
I remembered that despite their differences, they commonly shared an innate sense of compassion and willingness to understand the plights of their students. They did this in their own unique way, and for some reason, the students responded in large numbers. Now, imagine the impact this would have on adults in a workplace set up.
What is Empathy, really?
Empathy is the unique ability to utterly understand the situations and life stories of others as if you were to live it yourself. Empathy is the act of being so emotionally aware; you can feel emotional energies emanating from people and how it affects their behavior and their perception. It is, more succinctly, being able to understand the needs of others. Empathy is a powerful trait that helps you see perspectives that are different from your own and therefore, as a leader, enables you to make more holistic decisions.
Why is Empathy Important at Work?
Having an environment that pushes empathy allows people to feel that they are in an environment that is safe and open for positive feedback. It helps peoplen respond better to constructive criticism, and encourages collaboration. Empathy allows us freedom to make mistakes because we know we will not be unreasonably blamed for them. It encourages an atmosphere of acceptance and shared humanity. Most importantly, empathy, when used with leadership, can act as a conduit for motivation and efficient needs assessment.
Leadership and Empathy
The importance of empathic leadership cannot be overstated enough, especially nowadays where people are all isolated and many are working from home. Having a leader that acts as an overall head giving the most direct and clear orders is not enough to develop positive team culture. One needs to really connect and build relationships with their team in a way that is authentic. Leading with empathy boosts overall team satisfaction by virtue of motivating people based on needs that must be met. Empathic leaders become catalysts for change. They are aware of the needs of their team. They are usually the firstm people to know if there is something wrong with one of their team members. They can explore and respond to the problems team members face in a way that is proactive, thus finding more solutions. Being an empathic leader also garners respect and admiration from those they lead.
How does one become more empathic?
One of the key traits of expressing empathy is learning how to listen actively. earn to understand the perceptions and thought processes of others by truly being interested in them and what their needs are at work, without bias. Be vigilant about your goal in expressing empathy. Take moments to step back, reassess yourself and understand whether you are truly listening, absorbing, and understanding the person you are conversing with. Learning how to understand people at a deeper level takes time and practice. The more you practice, the more natural you become at it.
In a nutshell
Empathy in the workplace as in life is one of the fundamental tools people need to connect. This February, Rocket Station focuses on the topic of building and nurturing relationships. How else better to contribute to this topic other than leading with empathy? If you like our articles and want to read more, feel free to subscribe and get the freshest insights from our blog.
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