Updated: Jun 11
In recent days, we’ve witnessed a variety of leadership styles play out across our nation. As people struggle with the very difficult topics of racism and police brutality following a pandemic that has threatened the lives of so many, we’ve watched both the best and worst of our leaders come to light. While some rise unexpectedly to the top, we shake our heads in disbelief at the actions of others. Regardless of your beliefs on any of these topics, when it comes to leadership, those that gain the respect of others are those that can demonstrate empathy and compassion for their fellow man. In order for people to want to follow you, they need to know you’ve got their back and you aren’t just in this for your own self-serving reasons. #empatheticleadership
The demonstration of empathy and compassion requires a certain amount of vulnerability. It requires the leader to let their guard down enough to listen to another human being with all their senses. While it’s a great beginning, empathy is so much more than just listening. It’s allowing yourself to fully feel the hurt and pain of another human being. It requires you to put yourself in their shoes. No matter how funky, uncomfortable, or ugly you think their shoes are, you have to be willing to put them on for just a little bit so you can fully comprehend what they are saying.
In order to walk in their shoes, you have to get out of your own. All of your personal beliefs and opinions must be set aside so you can fully listen and put yourself into their state of mind for a few minutes. It's not easy. But nobody ever said leadership was easy, did they?
While empathy is the willingness to walk in their shoes and truly understand how they are feeling, compassion is the desire to alleviate that pain. It's one thing to listen to and empathize with others. It's a completely different thing to not only listen and feel their pain but to say "I hear you and we're going to do something about this." And of course, then actually do something about it.
If you are staying silent as a leader right now, you are taking action. Inaction is action. People are watching. They are anxiously waiting for you to do the right thing, to lead. We are hungry as a nation for strong leaders.
Make sure you are talking to your team during these challenging times. More importantly, take the time to listen. Let them know you care. Be willing to walk in their shoes. And make the necessary changes so all your employees feel safe, heard, and valued. #leadlikearockstar