When it comes to leadership we often measure our success by results, productivity and profits. While there is no question that they are important and should be a goal of every leader, they are not the only things to measure. As leaders we should also be measuring our success by the level of engagement we are achieving with the people who work for us.
Sadly, it is not always the case. Many leaders do not consider how effectively they are engaging, communicating or showing empathy to their employees.
If we consider that most people who leave a job are dissatisfied with their leader then we stand to gain by addressing this issue. Why are they dissatisfied? It is usually because they don’t feel valued, supported or appreciated. If we lead using empathy then most of these issues will be addressed. Not only to the benefit of your employees, but also to the benefit of your bottom line.
So what is Empathy?
We hear it mentioned frequently but do we really understand what it means? In a nutshell it is about having awareness and consideration of others feelings. And it is vital to effective leadership.
Having empathy for others does not mean you agree with their feelings, but it shows that you are aware of them. You understand where they are coming from and you take their feelings into consideration. This understanding increases the level of engagement you have with your staff. They feel valued and appreciated.
Showing empathy for your staff can be one of the best things to improve results in any area of your business. So how do we lead empathically and maintain or improve our productivity levels?
1. Use Emotional Intelligence
Empathic leaders are fully engaged when dealing with employees. Using emotional intelligence gives you an awareness not only of your own emotions but those of the people around you.
2. Be aware of your presence
To be fully present when you are communicating with those around you makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of the communication and the level of engagement you will experience. Being fully present and giving the other person your full attention is not only courteous, it is also a great way to build strong relationships. Make eye contact and let them know they have your undivided attention.
3. Listen carefully
It is easy to be distracted when others are talking to you, there is usually so much going on. Taking the time to completely focus on what people are saying will tell you so much more about what’s happening and how they are doing. Listening carefully not only benefits you it also lets the other person knows that they’ve been heard and that you value their viewpoint. It is a great way to use empathy to build strong relationships with your team.
4. Withhold judgement
A key aspect of empathy is being able to listen and withhold judgement. None of us like to feel judged, nothing positive is going to come out of it. Taking a mental step back to objectively listen to what is happening will go a long way in building trust with your team.
5. Be Considerate
Even the smallest gestures of consideration can make a difference to those you work with. They will all contribute to a strong relationship built on trust with your employees and your clients.
Using empathy when you are dealing with others will make a significant difference to your relationships, to their job satisfaction and ultimately to the productivity and successful results of your business.
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.