Empathy is something that I am extremely passionate about. This stems from my career in healthcare and my experiences as a patient. I feel awful that I did not truly understand what it meant to be empathetic in my early years of caring for patients. I feel that in healthcare, empathy is the best medicine a patient can receive.
In my opinion, empathy is one of the most important soft skills for leaders. Many leaders fail to connect with people because of their inability to suspend their egos and preconceived notions about people. These are the same leaders that think they are solely indispensable to an organization and without them, no one is successful.
Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, or seeing a situation through their eyes. Maybe you think you are a great leader, but an employee tells you they need more leadership and guidance. Look at it from their standpoint. Do you understand them? Do you know what is going on in their lives? Do you know what their goals and dreams are? Do you know how to motivate them? Do they have something happening in their personal lives that is affecting their job performance? Are you giving them what they need? Better yet, have you asked them what they need?
I know what you may be thinking. You are too busy to get to know your employees at this level. After all, there is so much work to be done. When you get to understand people, you can connect with them at a different level. Once you have connected with them, you can influence and motivate them. When employees feel motivated, and valued they will grow and succeed far beyond anyone’s expectations.
Do you understand where your employees and colleagues are coming from? Tune into them. If you relate to them, you should be able to notice if they are experiencing a time where they may need you to show some empathy. Conflict often arises from misunderstanding. Next time you have an uneasy situation, take a moment to step into the other person’s shoes. If there is nothing you can relate to, ask them questions and seek to understand. You will see the relationships change dramatically and productivity skyrocket.
Do you have any examples of someone showing empathy, or any wisdom on how to refine one’s empathy skills?
Is there a leadership topic you would like me to include in my weekly blog?
Please share thoughts and comments below. Thank you for reading.